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In gun debate, Democratic presidential candidates mention Parkland, but not Pulse

Orlando lawmaker: ‘That was incredibly disappointing.’
MONICA HERNDON | Times Rain starts to fall on June 10, 2019 at the Pulse Interim Memorial, in Orlando, Florida. On June 12, 2016, 49 people died in a mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub.
Published Jun. 27

Democratic candidates for president often invoked the 2018 school shooting in Parkland and the activism from the student survivors as they made the case for more restrictions on firearms during Wednesday night’s debate in Miami.

But forgotten in the conversation was another gun-related tragedy in Florida just two years earlier: the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando. There, a man with military-style weapons killed 49 people in what was at the time the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. It remains so in Florida.

The omission was not overlooked by some Orlando-area Democrats. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith said the failure to acknowledge Pulse during a gun debate in Florida “'was incredibly disappointing.”

Pulse was a gay night club and the shooting occurred during Latin night. The victims of the Orlando shooting were mostly LGBTQ and Latinx.

RELATED: Three years after Pulse shooting, psychological wounds still raw. ‘This isn’t something that’s going to heal itself’

Because of that, victims of the shooting and advocates for the communities there have said the Pulse tragedy is often overlooked. Then-Gov. Rick Scott didn’t wear a Pulse ribbon until two years after. In his proclamation June 12 to mark the three-year remembrance of the shooting, Gov. Ron DeSantis initially left out the sexual orientation of the victims and the targeted attack on the LGBTQ community.

“I don’t understand why the candidates didn’t mention Pulse,” Smith told the Tampa Bay Times in a text message, “but I welcome them to visit the interim memorial in Orlando and meet with the families and survivors to understand the unique complexities of how this tragedy impacted LGBTQ and communities of color.”

MORE DEBATE COVERAGE: What about Florida issues? We asked Democratic candidates your questions. Now see their answers.

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