The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization, on Thursday officially endorsed stricter gun control measures as a way to better protect the LGBT community in the wake of the Orlando attack in which 49 people were killed and 53 injured.
The organization said easy access to deadly weapons had "compounded the threat" of bias-motivated violence against LGBT people, and called for restricting access to assault-style rifles, expanding background checks, and limiting the ability of suspected terrorists, and those with a history of domestic abuse, to acquire guns.
It is the first time in the HRC's 36-year history that a special board session was called to adopt a broad policy decision.
"Forty-nine members of our community were murdered on Sunday morning because of a toxic combination of two things: a deranged, unstable individual who had been conditioned to hate LGBTQ people, and easy access to military-style guns," HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "It is imperative that we address both issues in order to mitigate safety risk to our community."
He called for lawmakers, religious leaders, and public officials to be held accountable for targeting the LGBT community through "hateful rhetoric and legislation."
"The safety of the LGBTQ community depends on our ability to end both the hatred toward our community and the epidemic of gun violence that has spiraled out of control," Griffin said.
Fifty-three LGBT and gun violence-prevention advocates signed a petition Thursday, calling for more stringent checks "to keep guns out of dangerous hands."
"With each new massacre, most recently the one in Orlando, we hope the number of homicides has pushed Americans over the threshold of tolerance for hatred fueled by people who seek to divide the country; for weak gun laws that arm those with hate in their hearts; and for the more than 90 victims of gun killings nationwide each day, affecting people of all backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities," the petition states.
The petition also urges Congress to enact laws to prevent suspected terrorists and those convicted of violent hate crimes from legally buying guns and to ensure that criminal background checks are required on all gun sales, both online and at gun shows.
"Any solutions to the problem of hate violence, including anti-LGBTQ violence, must address the alarmingly easy access that bigots have to such deadly weapons," the petition states.