In the wake of a mass shooting at an Orlando gay night club, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey plans on announcing new legislation that will ban those convicted of hate crimes from purchasing firearms.
A spokesperson for Senator Casey (D-PA), announced he will host a news conference Monday morning in Pittsburgh following a meeting with LGBT community leaders. Senator Casey will discuss the shooting as well as “steps the United States government must take immediately to address safety concerns across the country from commonsense gun laws to ongoing acts of hate,” according to the spokesperson.
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Casey also plans on unveiling legislation that would ban people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from owning firearms.
The announcement comes after a mass shooting early Sunday morning at Pulse Nightclub, a gay club in Orlando, that left at least 50 people dead and more than 50 others wounded. Michael Hoffman, a gay man who moved from Philadelphia to Orlando five years ago, told NBC10 he was at Pulse but left with a friend about an hour and a half before the massacre took place.
“I go to that club a lot,” Hoffman said. “Everybody was just having a good time. There were 300 to 400 people there.”
Hoffman soon heard the horrific news a few hours after leaving.
"If I would've been there throughout the night or we would've stayed just a little bit longer, I would've been dead," Hoffman said. "He decided, my friend, to leave the club early which we did. Thank God for that."
Authorities identified the shooter as Omar Mateen, 29, a Florida resident who was born in New York City. With the investigation still in the early stages, indications are that Mateen wanted to be associated with the terrorist group ISIS and was upset by seeing an openly gay couple kiss, according to an NBC News investigation. But it wasn't clear what drove him to kill dozens and wound dozens more at Pulse nightclub. Mateen died in a shootout with police.
Philadelphia Police increased their security at Philly’s Pride Parade and Festival Sunday morning which took place in Center City and continued at Penn’s Landing.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered flags at half-staff in honor of the victims of the Orlando shooting.
“Frances and I send our thoughts and prayers to the victims, their families, and the entire Orlando community for the tragic and senseless terror attack and hate crime that occurred early this morning in Florida,” Governor Wolf said. “I ask all Pennsylvanians to participate in this tribute on behalf of all who were lost and injured.”
Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput also condemned the attacks.
“The recent violent acts committed in Orlando are horrific and they fill all of us with an unspeakable sadness. Innocent and precious lives were lost in a senseless and evil way,” he said in a released statement. The family and friends of those who perished now shoulder a heavy burden of grief and suffering. As Christians, our duty is to pray for those whose lives were ended by the inexcusable cruelty of others and to ask God to pour his comforting grace upon all those who are in mourning.”
Vigils and tributes to the victims are taking place in cities across the country, including Philadelphia. A candlelight vigil is set to take place at City Hall Monday around 6:30 p.m. Mayor Jim Kenney is expected to attend.