Once again, we woke up to the news of another mass shooting in our country. This weekend, two mass shootings took the lives of 30 people and injured 42 more; scenes from El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH are becoming all too common. Unfortunately, the impotent reaction from the Republican Party is becoming all too common as well. Given its subservience to the National Rifle Association (NRA), the Republican Party can’t and won’t offer much more than thoughts and prayers. After every mass shooting, their response is that it is too soon for politics when, in fact, the solution to the mass shootings has been political action all along. Unwilling to forego donations from the NRA, Republicans continue to block measures that could start to address this public safety epidemic. They hide behind the Second Amendment, unwilling to address this important issue.
According to a Gallup survey in March 2018, 92 percent of Americans said they favor background checks for all gun sales. In February, the Democratic-held House passed a background check measure – the most significant gun legislation to go through Congress in 20 years. The Senate refused to take up the bill.
Right here in Florida, the home of mass shootings at Pulse Night Club, Jacksonville Landing, and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, my alma mater, the people have come together and offered an amendment to Florida’s Constitution to ban “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than ten (10) rounds of ammunition at once, either in a fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition-feeding device.” The partnering groups reached the required number of citizen petitions needed to trigger a Florida Supreme Court review and our very own Attorney General is not having it!
Don’t forget, an assault weapons ban is nothing new. We had a federal ban on assault weapons from 1994 – 2004 that saved many lives yet Ashley Moody is fighting it tooth and nail. As Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago puts it, “Since Attorney General Ashley Moody swore on a Bible to protect us and settled into her Cabinet post, she’s been busy pushing back against any possibly successful effort to rein in the carnage in Florida.” Instead of allowing Floridians to vote on this issue, Florida’s Attorney General is working hard to make sure she keeps her “A” rating from the NRA and she’s fighting this measure before it gets to the ballot.
Let’s agree that responsible gun owners don’t like what’s happening – the reckless use of firearms. People who have never held a gun in their lives don’t like what’s happening – the reckless use of firearms. Gun violence is a public health issue and as such, it must be treated that way. We need everyone to come to the table and work on sensible solutions. When we have elected officials, like Attorney General Ashley Moody, standing in the way of these solutions, we have to make our voices heard.
Chairwoman, Collier County Democratic Party