It’s been over 24 hours since the heinous shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and the inevitable but ultimately empty outpouring of “thoughts and prayers” has turned into expressions of outrage over how this could have happened – and who, or what, is to blame.
Republicans, the NRA, and gun rights advocates of all stripes are desperately trying to steer those conversations away from not only themselves for weakening gun laws already on the books, but from firearms themselves.
GOP leader after GOP leader hit the cable news circuit, the floors of the Congress, and the internet to spread one unified message: guns are not the problem; our inability to identify, treat, and/or isolate members of the population who suffer from mental health illnesses is.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, however, is done waiting for Republicans to do something about this scourge of mass shootings, particularly at our nation’s schools. He took the mic at Thursday’s candlelight vigil and called out lawmakers who seem intent on reinforcing the status quo, warning them that a refusal to review and reform our gun laws will have consequences at the polls.
“If you’re an elected official, and you want to keep things the way they are…if you want to keep gun laws as they are now, you will not get reelected in Broward County,” he declared to a huge roar from the crowd.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel: "If you're an elected official, and you want to keep things the way they are…if you want to keep gun laws as they are now, you will not get reelected in Broward County" https://t.co/bLrHxgscob pic.twitter.com/iVbBgLqfSB
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 16, 2018
Anyone shocked by Sheriff Israel’s comments Thursday night haven’t been paying attention. Earlier Thursday at a press conference to update reporters on all aspects of the aftermath following yesterday’s massacre, Israel called for an expansion of a Florida State law that allows police and doctors to hospitalize citizens against their will if they post anything overtly violent or threatening on social media.
Florida’s Baker Act currently allows law enforcement and medical professionals to flag individuals who exhibit this kind of online behavior, but it requires s too high of a bar to clear to enact it, and it’s often too late when they finally do.
Sheriff Israel begged the Florida state legislature and lawmakers in Washington to give local law enforcement more authority to cut through the red tape if “they see something on social media, if they see graphic pictures of rifles and blood and gore and guns and bombs, if they see something, horrific language, if they see a person talking about ‘I want to grow up to be a serial killer.’”
“People are going to be rightfully so concerned about their rights, as am I, but what about the rights of these students?” Israel continued. “What about the rights of young kids who go to schools with book bags and pencils? Don’t they have the right to be protected by the United States government to the best of our ability?”
His proposals will surely raise red flags among both civil liberties watch dog groups and the NRA, but debates on these issues are long over due, and the time to have them is now.