Last week, a deadly high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, claimed the lives of 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School.
After this shooting and the many others that preceded it, a massive public response was sparked. Gun control became a popular and contentious issue, with many demanding tougher gun regulations to prevent shootings.
Police had confirmed that the alleged gunman was equipped with an AR-15 assault rifle, which was purchased legally.
On Tuesday, public pressure successfully pushed the issue into the political arena. Unfortunately, the lawmakers failed to pass a motion that would consider a bill banning assault rifles. Instead, the politicians succeeded in passing a resolution that declared pornography a public health risk.
The Florida House of Representatives opened its session on Tuesday with a motion to debate a bill banning assault rifles, but it was quickly rejected by a 71-36 vote. The vote lasted three minutes, according to The Washington Post.
An hour later, the session considered and passed (via a voice vote) a GOP-backed bill that sought to declare pornography a public health risk.
During the debate on the bill, Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith (D) shot through the proposed legislation by asking Representative Ross Spano, the GOP politician that had presented the bill, if pornography had ever killed anyone or caused first responders to seek counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Smith later used The Associated Press as a platform to criticize Spano and his bill.
“[Spano] was saying porn as a health risk was more important to address here in the Florida Legislature than the epidemic of gun violence,” Smith told the AP. “These are their priorities. I don't understand the politics, to be honest, if I'm being honest. I'm not aware there's a base of voters who are losing sleep every night over the epidemic of pornography as a public health crisis.”
Heartbroken survivors from the shooting at MSD High School were present in the gallery watching the lawmakers as they voted not to consider the ban on assault rifles. This has caused an intensified outrage from the students and the public. The students are spearheading a movement against the politicians, demanding for the public to vote the lawmakers out of office.
— Emma González (@Emma4Change) February 21, 2018
Sheryl Acquaroli, a student from MSD, told CNN that the state’s decision to not consider the assault rifle ban was “heartbreaking.”
“It was just so heartbreaking to see how many names were up there, especially after it was my school,” Acquaroli said. “It seemed almost heartless how they immediately pushed the button to say ‘no.'”
On Thursday, President Trump claimed that he would push for stronger background checks “with an emphasis on mental health” for gun sales. He had also stated that purchasers should be at least 21 years of age and bump stocks (and other similar weapon accessories) should be banned.
“I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue — I hope,” he posted on Twitter.
I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue – I hope!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2018
H/T: The Hill