Shoot­ing sur­vivor praises Sec­ond Amend­ment

Fa­vors re­stric­tions on who can ac­quire firearms, back­ground checks

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY SARAH NEL­SON

A sur­vivor of last year’s shoot­ing ram­page at a Florida night­club, who still has two bul­lets lodged in his body, says he fully sup­ports the Sec­ond Amend­ment and wishes some of the other vic­tims had been armed to de­fend them­selves that fate­ful night.

But Jeff Ro­driguez says he fa­vors re­stric­tions on who can ac­quire guns, in his first pub­lic state­ments since the June 12 shoot­ing.

“Peo­ple as­sume that be­cause of this I’m against guns,” Mr. Ro­driguez said Wed­nes­day dur­ing an event at the Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Progress. “That is not cor­rect. I be­lieve if my­self or oth­ers had guns that night, I be­lieve the out­come would have been very dif­fer­ent.”

While Mr. Ro­driguez said he be­lieves in the right to bear arms, in­clud­ing handguns, he would de­mand more rig­or­ous back­ground checks and men­tal eval­u­a­tions of po­ten­tial gun buy­ers. He also said he re­mains adamantly against al­low­ing the pub­lic to pos­sess mil­i­tary-style weapons.

“We’re not try­ing to take guns from cit­i­zens,” he said. “We need to strike now and get ag­gres­sive as pos­si­ble.”

Rep. El­iz­a­beth Esty, Con­necti­cut Demo­crat, also voiced sup­port Wed­nes­day for the Sec­ond Amend­ment dur­ing the Pulse Night­club Shoot­ing One Year Later event hosted by the Po­lit­i­cal Ac­tion Com­mit­tee (PAC) Pride Fund to End Gun Vi­o­lence and the Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Progress.

But Ms. Esty said that not just any ci­ti­zen should be “pack­ing heat.” She said stronger back­ground checks are among the first steps in ad­dress­ing gun vi­o­lence against LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ties.

“This is a time where Amer­i­can democ­racy needs us. It’s not just about tol­er­ance. It’s about ac­cep­tance and love and a cel­e­bra­tion of this won­der­ful coun­try,” Ms. Esty said.

In the year since the Pulse at­tack, the largest mass shoot­ing in U.S. his­tory that left 49 dead and 53 in­jured, Mr. Ro­driguez has un­der­gone eight surg­eries, and he re­quires three more. Four bul­lets hit him in his neck, stom­ach and legs, and two re­main within his body.

Mr. Ro­driguez was 37 years old on the night of the shoot­ing, when he and two friends at­tended the weekly Latin Night event at the gay night­club Pulse in Or­lando.

Pulse and other gay bars ex­ist as safe spa­ces for the LGBTQ com­mu­nity “to be them­selves,” said Jason Lind­say, founder and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Pride Fund to End Gun Vi­o­lence.

In the early hours of June 12, a gun­man en­tered Pulse and be­gan fir­ing. Mr. Ro­driguez was trapped in a bath­room, and he re­called feel­ing as if he couldn’t de­fend him­self.

He cred­ited his sur­vival to his friend, the only medic in the bath­room, as well as the three-block dis­tance be­tween Pulse and the hos­pi­tal. He bled for three hours dur­ing the or­deal.

Though he is aware some other sur­vivors re­main afraid to leave their homes, Mr. Ro­driguez said he feels com­pelled to “act” and “do some­thing.”

“We can’t let this keep hap­pen­ing,” he said. “One year later, Pulse has not ended for us.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A year af­ter the fa­tal June 12 shoot­ing at Pulse in Or­lando, Florida, sur­vivor Jeff Ro­driguez spoke out in fa­vor of the Sec­ond Amend­ment. “Peo­ple as­sume that be­cause of this I’m against guns,” he said.

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