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Pulse nightclub to become a national memorial, says President Biden

On the fifth anniversary of the mass shooting at Pulse, President Joe Biden says the site of the deadly attack will become a national memorial.
/ Source: TODAY

Five years after a gunman murdered 49 members of the LGBTQ community who were enjoying a night out dancing at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, President Joe Biden says the site of the deadly attack will become a national memorial.

On June 12, 2016, in the middle of Pride Month, 49 people were killed and 53 others were wounded in what was the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community in the nation's history and at the time, the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman.

A visitor takes in the scene at the memorial to the 49 shooting victims setup at the Pulse nightclub where the shootings took place on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

"Within minutes, the Pulse nightclub that had long been a place of acceptance and joy turned into a place of unspeakable pain and loss," the president said in his statement on Saturday. "Forty-nine people were there celebrating Latin Night were murdered, even more injured, and countless others scarred forever — the victims were family members, partners and friends, veterans and students, young, Black, Asian and Latino — our fellow Americans."

"A few days later, I traveled with President Obama to pay respects to them and their families, to thank the brave first responders and the community who found strength and compassion in each other, and to pledge that what happened would not be forgotten," he continued.

"Over the years, I have stayed in touch with families of the victims and with the survivors who have turned their pain into purpose, and who remind us that we must do more than remember victims of gun violence and all of the survivors, family members, and friends left behind; we must act."

Biden said in the next few days, he will sign a bill designating the "hallowed ground" of Pulse Nightclub as a national memorial, "enshrining in law what has been true since that terrible day five years ago."

William True spends a moment in front of a picture of his friend Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo at the memorial to the 49 shooting victims setup at the Pulse nightclub on June 11, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Biden also used his statement on Saturday to address the "public health epidemic of gun violence," urging lawmakers to strengthen background checks, establish “red flag” laws, eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability and ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

The president also addressed violence against the LGBTQ community, specifically transgender women of color, urging the Senate to pass the Equality Act, a landmark LGBTQ rights bill that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity across vital areas of life, including employment, housing, education, public accommodations and more.

"In the memory of all of those lost at the Pulse nightclub five years ago, let us continue the work to be a nation at our best — one that recognizes and protects the dignity and safety of every American."