The tragic mass killing in the Orlando gay club that resulted in the deaths of so many Latinos could bring two powerful groups, Hispanics and the gay community, closer together in the fight for gun control reform.
Florida Democrats have been outpacing Republicans in registration growth for some time now, and the upcoming presidential election continues to push solidly “purple” states over to the Democrats.
As the debate over gay rights, gun reform, and Latino activism converge in Florida and reverberate across the nation, the GOP will need to thinking heavily over the weight of the importance of the Sunshine State’s 29 electoral votes.
On the Republican front, it looks like the needle won't be moving on gun control legislation any time soon, neither from the party's presumptive nominee nor from Congress.
Donald Trump’s reflexes during this tragedy was to, in real time, boast about being congratulated for “being right” about Muslim extremism.
And in Congress, Democrats walked out of the House chamber on Monday following a moment of silence for the Orlando shooting victims; the Democratic legislators were protesting the fact that House Speaker Paul Ryan had not allowed the House to move on gun control bills.
Some Hispanic lawmakers have expressed frustration over the gestures of prayer, moments of silence and memorial services without any movement on legislation that would ban the kind of high-powered assault rifles used in Orlando and other massacres like Sandy Hook, which killed children in a school.
But there may be an opportunity for change.
With only 20 percent of Latino households with a gun at home compared to 41 percent of non-Hispanic white households, Hispanics have a unique opportunity to pressure Congress by forming a stronger bond with the vast social network of gay activists that have grown so influential over the last few decades.
The fight over guns is more than just a policy issue, it is a cultural issue, and the gay community has been very effective at transforming our views on gay marriage, adoption of children, sexuality, individual expression, and transgender rights.
Beside Latino LGBTQ activists and leaders who are already calling for more legislative action after Orlando, Latino leaders would be wise to encourage greater collaboration with the gay community over how the two can work together to put pressure on tackling the massive problem of gun violence and easy access to weapons. These communities are not exclusive to each other and greater public acknowledgement of that, with greater political collaboration, can grow into an even greater political force.
Data from several sources continue to show strong support among Latinos for more stringent gun control laws. A 2014 survey by Pew Hispanic found that Latino registered voters across the U.S. said they preferred gun control over the rights of owners by a margin of 62 percent to 36 percent. That's a marked contrast from non-Latino white registered voters, who chose gun owners’ rights over gun control by 59 to 30 percent.
Greater differences emerge when comparing foreign-born and native-born Latinos, where 82 percent of those who were not born in the United States prioritized gun control.
Data from Latino Decisions, a polling firm whose principals were hired by the Clinton Campaign, show findings consistent with the data from Pew Research Center. Latinos are overwhelmingly in favor of modest reforms that reduce or restrict guns and ammunition.
Their data show that 84 percent of Hispanics support background checks, 69 percent support a national database and 62 percent support limitations on high capacity magazines. A majority of Latinos even supported a ban on semi-automatic weapons.
Leading LGBT groups have also supported measures to restrict the easy access to guns that have taken such a toll on all communities. As these two powerful political groups continue to make sense out of the violence, perhaps hope can emerge that the bonds between them will finally put pressure for change that up to now has proven elusive.