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15 June 2016
Statement from UNA-NCA President on Mass Shooting in Orlando

From the President of UNA-NCA

Last Sunday morning we awoke to the horrific and heartbreaking news of the worst mass shooting in the history of our country. We at UNA-NCA offer our deepest condolences to the victim’s families and friends and the City of Orlando. We hope for a speedy recovery of the survivors from the injuries and trauma resulting from this tragedy.

We may never fully comprehend the twisted motives of the shooter—whether indoctrination by the evil ideologies of terrorism, hatred for the LBGT community or some form of self-loathing or mental instability—likely some combination of the three. We do know that the loss of so many innocent lives in such a short time span-- as was the case in Newtown, Aurora and San Bernardino--  was perpetrated by a military-style automatic weapon, easily obtainable in the US marketplace.

As Americans we respond with shock and grief. As members of UNA-NCA, we are reminded that in our interdependent world, Americans are not immune from acts of terrorism, hatred, violence, atrocities, and mental illness. Nor are we immune from  false ideologies and hatred of those who are culturally different whether spawned here at home or around the world.  Fear does not respect sovereign borders. No wall can keep fear out—only tolerance and respect for diversity.

Despite the progress we are making toward realizing the values of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights— working for peaceful and tolerant communities and reaffirming our “faith in  human rights” and “the worth and dignity of every human person”-- there will be significant setbacks along the way. The valor of the first responders and law enforcement, the lines of people giving blood, and the selfless acts of those targeted by the shooter in helping each other in Orlando  all attest to the fact that most Americans respond with courage and selflessness to such setbacks.

We take comfort in the fact that the United Nations is setting forth a counter terrorism narrative, advocating for the rights of the LBGT community and has adopted Global Goals to guide our work toward a better world. US leadership has been critical to the UN’s recent progress in each of these areas, but the tragedy in Orlando reminds us that the challenges are universal. We have much to do here at home to reduce the violence, hatred, conflict, and mental illness which continue to plague our society.

At UNA-NCA, we are uniquely positioned to advance the UN’s universal values and Global Goals in our communities. We can work for equal rights and safety for the LBGT community and other vulnerable groups. We can work for reasonable gun control that keeps weapons out of the hands of killers, would-be terrorists,  and the mentally ill. We can counter the false ideologies of terrorism by building diverse, inclusive communities that enable each person to be respected and reach their potential. Orlando reminds us that progress is not guaranteed. It is hard work, and it is best achieved when we realize that we are part of a richly varied and  interconnected global community in which, despite our differences, we share common values.


Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.)