FL Dems want measures to prevent ‘horrific, soul-shattering’ mass shootings; What about the GOP?

By: - May 25, 2022 1:21 pm

Photo via Getty Images/Colorado Newsline.

As the nation reels and reacts to another devastating mass shooting, this time killing 19 elementary students and two adults in Uvalde, Texas, Florida political figures and gun-reform advocacy groups compare the tragedy to Florida’s two major mass-shootings in the last six years: Parkland and Pulse night club.

At a Wednesday morning press conference, Florida Democratic lawmakers gathered in the Florida Capitol complex to respond to what state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith called “another horrific, soul shattering mass shooting in a school here in this country.”

The Democrats say that something needs to happen regarding gun control and reform policies, but it’s not clear what Republicans will do.

“Our hearts go out to not only those in Texas, but those in Florida, at Parkland and at Pulse, who are retraumatized by the continuous epidemic of mass shootings that’s happening in this country,” Smith told reporters.

One Year Anniversary Parkland tragedy
A memorial at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, following the mass shooting on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Fla. Getty Images photo by Joe Raedle

Parkland was the site of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Broward County, where 17 students and staff were killed in 2018. At the Pulse night club in Orlando shooting in 2016, 49 people, most of whom were LGBTQ+, were killed.

The Wednesday press conference focused on the tragedy of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary school in Texas, where 19 children and two adults were killed Tuesday, and to suggest “common-sense” gun safety policies to prevent future mass shootings.

Rep. Fentrice Driskell, who will soon be the House Democratic leader and represents part of Hillsborough County, noted that the Uvalde school shooting occurred just days after the Tops grocery store mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.

In both cases, the shooters were male and 18 years old at the time of the shootings.

“To say that our hearts are heavy is an understatement. My heart is grieving for the families in those communities, but my soul is grieving for America that has become desensitized to such violence,” Driskell said at the Wednesday news conference.

She suggested considering policies such as requiring universal criminal background checks and I.D. checks on ammunition purchases.

“We can do all of these things, and not touch a single legally-owned firearm,” Driskell said.

Other reactions from Dems and GOP politicians

Meanwhile, Republican state Rep. Randy Fine of Brevard County tweeted:

“I have news for the embarrassment that claims to be our President (Joe Biden) — try to take our guns and you’ll learn why the Second Amendment was written in the first place.”

A bit later, he added:

“The reaction exposes the lie of the left that they just want “common sense gun control.” They want one thing and one thing only — gun confiscation and an end to the 2A (the Second Amendment)— and the notion that Americans will exercise their right to fight them makes them go crazy. Boo hoo.”

President Joe Biden tweeted Wednesday:

“The idea that an 18-year-old can walk into a store and buy assault weapons is just wrong. What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone?”

Thus far, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has not responded publicly to the mass shooting in Texas. The Florida Phoenix reached out to his press secretary and is awaiting response.

Potential buyers try out guns which are displayed on an exhibitor’s table during the Nation’s Gun Show on Nov. 18, 2016 at Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia. | Alex Wong, Getty Images

However, on April 29 during a news conference in North Florida, DeSantis “promised to push for a bill allowing Floridians to publicly carry firearms, even if they have not previously taken a training course or gotten a permit,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

In a Twitter feed, U.S. Rep. Rick Scott wrote from yesterday’s mass shooting: “Ann & I are heartbroken to hear about the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School. No student should ever be afraid to go to school. The violence must end. We are praying for all of the victims, their families & all affected by this senseless act.”

Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Marco Rubio, in a Twitter feed, said “The horrific tragedy in Texas should spur Congress to act on proposals that can pass & actually make a difference like our bipartisan Luke & Alex School Safety Act #SafeSchoolsForAll.

A summary of Luke and Alex School Safety Act of 2021, introduced in 2021 by a Wisconsin senator in Congress, “requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish a Federal Clearinghouse on School Safety Best Practices for use by state and local educational and law-enforcement agencies, institutions of higher education, health professionals, and the public. The bill requires DHS to collect clearinghouse data analytics, user feedback on the implementation of best practices and recommendations identified by the clearinghouse, and any evaluations conducted on these best practices and recommendations,” among other measures.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Val Demings — Rubio’s opponent in the 2022 U.S. Senate campaign — posted on twitter Tuesday: “Another school shooting. I can hardly speak. Every parent in America should be mad as hell that the Senators of the greatest country in the world have chosen not to do a damn thing about innocent people gunned down in innocent places. Praying for the victims at Robb Elementary.”

Campaign trail 2022

It has become clear that gun policy and reform will likely be a major issue in this year’s campaign trails.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is campaigning in the Democratic primary in the 2022 Florida gubernatorial election, suggested expanding the current special session on property insurance to include gun reform policies.

People gather outside of Tops market on May 15, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A gunman opened fire at the store, killing 10 people and wounding another three. Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

“While our country is still reeling from the racially motivated murders in Buffalo just ten days ago, this is yet another devastating tragedy that took the lives of innocent elementary school students. In Florida, we know all too well the pain and trauma that senseless mass shootings cause in our lives and our communities, and our hearts go out to the victims and everyone who has been hurt by gun violence,” she said in a written statement. ”

Fried added:

“The Legislature must add gun violence prevention reform to the current special session agenda. There cannot be any more children massacred or lives destroyed by mass shootings while our government sits idly by.”

At thr Wednesday press conference in the Capitol, Sen. Annette Taddeo, another Democratic candidate for governor, spoke on the shooting, asking:

“How is this possible that we’re still doing nothing about it. Nothing….this is about our kids’ lives. When are we going to get the courage to do something about it?”

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor but currently campaigning for the Democratic candidate in the 2022 gubernatorial race, said in a written statement:

“There are many common sense measures that Congress, our Governor and legislature could enact today that would save the lives of Florida’s schoolchildren and citizens in the years ahead.

“For once and for all, require background checks for private gun sales. Right now, today, anyone can go online and find a gun, meet someone in a parking lot, and buy it with cash and no background check.

“We need to ban the sale of assault weapons and high capacity magazines for assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols. Is there any legitimate reason to have a 30-round magazine for recreational shooting or home defense? There’s not.

“We have to act, and we have to act now. It’s up to Republican legislators and our Republican Governor to get onboard or get out of the way.”

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Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University. She has served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine and Rowland Publishing. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat.