Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting: Don’t Say ‘Gun Control’

Shortly after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last week, Florida Governor Rick Scott responded to challenges concerning how he planned to move forward with gun control. The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas was the 18th school shooting since the start of 2018.

“We have to look at these things and say to ourselves, our primary goal is school safety. I don’t want to tramp on anyone’s constitutional rights, but we’ve got to focus on keeping these kids safe.”

When asked directly if his plans included making gun control laws stricter, Scott responded, “…We’re going to figure out how, moving forward, this never happens again. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this never happens again.”

Scott said that the Florida State legislature assured him that they’d be very supportive of working through what needs to be done. “I’ve asked for funding for school safety…We’re going to figure this out.” But Scott repeatedly avoided directly addressing the issue of making gun laws stricter.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked, “Are you ready to commit your political team to work to tighten gun restrictions in the state of Florida?”

“Everything’s on the table…I’m going to do everything I can to keep these kids safe,” responded Scott.

Earlier this week, 100 students, survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, traveled seven hours to Tallahassee to watch the Florida House of Representatives vote on a motion for debate on a gun control bill. The bill, introduced by Democratic State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, would ban the sale of assault weapons and large capacity magazines. It would have classified the AR-15 as an assault weapon, and banned it.

Governor Scott’s earlier assurance that he and lawmakers would “do whatever they could” to ensure that a mass shooting never happens again in Florida schools clearly did not mean that “doing whatever they could” would include examining tighter gun control measures. The Florida House of Representatives voted down the motion for debate, 71-36.

Apparently, a greater risk to the public is pornography. During the same session, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill that declared pornography a public health risk.

“Unfortunately, just five days after 17 people were gunned down at a Florida school, the Florida House just passed a bill that declares pornography a public health risk,” said Congressman Smith. “Basically, what they have just determined is that these are the Republican priorities in 2018. Wasting our time with debate and legislation that declares porn a health threat. Meanwhile, we can’t even get a single debate, vote, or hearing on anything related to assault weapons.”

When asked why the House voted down even considering such a bill, Republican State Representative Matt Caldwell replied, “The worst outcome in my mind is that we put forth some proposal, we ban something just at a whim, without really going through the time or the process. And it (restricting sale of assault weapons) doesn’t make any difference. So next time you have a school shooting, then what do you say?

There is no record of anyone walking into a building and using pornography to take lives in the span of three minutes, as has happened with an AR-15 assault rifle. Yet, Republicans, at least in Florida, appear to see porn as a greater health risk than a semiautomatic weapon in the hands of a disturbed individual. If this is the prevalent mentality, and if we continue to avoid the issue of tighter gun control, the odds are that what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, will happen again somewhere.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott Challenged on Gun Laws | [2018-02-15]

Lawmakers Pass on Gun Debate, Vote to Say Porn is Dangerous | CNN [2018-02-21]

Sen. Nelson: What Will it Take to Stop School Shootings? | Fox News [2018-02-14]

Gun Control Debate: Stalling Prevention of the Next Mass Shooting?

After the eighteenth school shooting in the U.S. since 2018 began (and one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history), it seems preposterous that there is even any question that we need to take a look at tighter gun control regulations. The debate polarizes, then stalls, though, at the black-and-white interpretation of “gun control” as “taking away all of our guns.”

The Trump Presidency marks a new era for gun rights supporters. Protecting second-amendment rights, as interpreted by current gun enthusiasts, seems to take precedence over establishing protections for would-be victims, in the form of tighter gun control laws. Yet, in the past five months of Trump’s presidency, three of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history have occurred.

After each of the past three mass shootings, Paul Ryan has responded with some variation of “This is not the time to jump to some conclusion, not knowing the full facts.”

Paul Ryan: No ‘Knee Jerk’ Reactions On Guns. Ever. | All In | MSNBC [2018-02-15]

In its seeming avoidance of addressing gun control, Congress wants to cite anything and everything but lack of gun control as the cause of these deadly shootings. “It’s a mental health issue” tends to come to the top of the list.

Earlier, however, on what was perhaps Opposite Day at the White House, Congress demonstrated that it didn’t view mental illness as a culprit in gun violence. In the first month of Trump’s presidency, Congress repealed Obama-era gun control legislation passed after the Sandy Hook massacre, during which 20 first-graders were among those murdered by a mentally disturbed man.  The legislation would have made it harder for people with certain mental illnesses to purchase firearms.

“Now, the only thing Congress has done (about) guns since Sandy Hook, is make it easier for mentally ill people to get guns,” said Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

Congress Allows Mentally Ill To Buy Guns, Rolls Back Obama-Era Regulations | TODAY [2018-02-16]

We should note that those who see gun ownership as a fundamental right often are referring to ownership of more than just a revolver, a shotgun , or a bolt-action rifle. They defend the right to own semi-automatic weapons, such as the AR-15, the weapon used most often in mass shootings. Often citing “home protection,” they appear to want guns that do so much more than protect from intruders or assailants; they want guns with the ability to blow human bone to bits, obliterate multiple intruders at once, and perhaps even provide protection in case of a zombie apocalypse.

So, despite arguing for the right to own weapons such as the AR-15, which was designed solely for the purpose of killing human beings, staunch gun enthusiasts are also quick to point out that it’s not the guns that are killing people. In addition to mental health issues, they often cite poor parenting, the need for gun education, the lack of safety measures (such as metal detectors and armed guards) in schools, and the abundance of violent TV shows and video games – but not the availability of guns – as the culprits for gun violence.

Clearly, many possible factors contribute to the rate of gun violence and mass shootings in the United States. Tighter gun control is but one factor, albeit an important one. But as we debate how to best address these other factors, somewhere, someone in the U.S. is perhaps taking out his semi-automatic firearms and contemplating the next mass shooting. And we’re stalling the prevention of that mass shooting as we avoid addressing the gun control issue head-on.

President Donald Trump Talks Mental Health But Not Guns In Wake Of Florida Shooting | TODAY [2018-02-18]