Florida Republicans just pulled a shameful nighttime trick on Parkland massacre survivors

The mother of one of the victims of the Parkland school shooting just told a crowded room of Florida Democratic legislators that Republicans were using them to push a bill to arm teachers, one that they fiercely oppose.

Teacher Scott Biegel, 35, gave his life heroically trying to save students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when a mass murder with an AR-15 cut his life short.

Now, his mother Linda Biegel says “we are being used” (in a video embedded below) by Florida Republicans because Koch brothers-sponsored Rep. Jose Oliva pulled an overnight switcheroo on the parents, which would create a mandatory, statewide armed teachers program ironically called the “Marshall Plan” in Florida.

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“I am vehemently opposed to the ‘Marshall Plan’ or whatever it’s called,” said Linda Biegel to the assembled members of Florida’s House Democratic caucus.

“We went to bed one night and there was one thing in the bill, and we woke up the next morning… and there were a ton of amendments thrown into the bill.”

But Republicans had tricked the grieving parents and Parkland students, convincing them to publicly support a very flawed bill the next day.

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Florida Representative Capt. Robert Asencio, Ret. (D-Miami) is the only police officer out of 154 state legislators. He posted Mrs. Biegel’s speech on his Facebook page and told Washington Press exclusively:

Yesterday, parents came to Florida’s capital from Parkland and its surrounding areas encouraging legislators to vote for the ‘Marshall Program’ because they were told by Republican leadership that if they don’t take whatever is proposed today, it will take a whole year until anything is done about school safety in Florida. Gun reform isn’t even on the table.

The Republican Party’s ‘Marshall Program’ will immediately authorize arming Florida teachers in all public schools.

I was a police officer in Miami-Dade Public Schools for 26 years, retiring as a Captain. If police officers are trained continuously, we were supervised carefully, monitored for standards, and police officers still make mistakes, then what’s going to happen when a teacher or an aide without rigorous training has a bad shoot?

“What happens when an armed teacher encounters a combative student?” asked Rep. Asencio, his voice trembling with anger in the halls of the Capitol while he spoke with us before a budget meeting. “Will armed teachers use Florida’s infamous “stand your grand” defense against school children?”

Miami-Dade’s Democratic Party Chair Juan Cuba says that the Florida Republicans plan to poison gun reform forever by injecting NRA super-lobbyist Marion Hammer’s ‘armed teachers’ bill into their Parkland legislation:

If we let this disaster proceed without a fight, the NRA (with Trump) will use Florida, as they always do, as the model for national gun “reform,” i.e. to sell more guns. Instead of a crazy idea, arming teachers will become part of the normal national policy debate.

I’ve just described exactly how the gun lobby turns every defeat for school safety into a win for gun manufacturers.

Without action today, we will lose the policy debate even before the kids get a chance to march on Washington.

Florida Republican legislators will have shifted over $1 billion dollars from public education to charter schools in just the last year when you include what they’ve got proposed this year, says Rep. Asencio.

Yet, the state’s radical GOP majority doesn’t want to give public schools an extra dime for their school safety programs, which have been cut by 24% in real terms since 2007.

Parkland parents just want sensible gun reform now, and none of them want to take any slippery steps down the slope toward armed teachers just to make up the funding gap created by Florida Republicans who’ve controlled the state government for 20 years.

A call flood is the only way to prevent Florida’s dastardly Republicans from cynically discarding the wishes of grieving parents and of the outspoken students who survived the mass murder in Parkland.

Parkland mom Linda Biegel’s video is at the bottom of this page. 

Call or email these ten key legislators day and night, and tell them not to vote for any bill that includes the “Marshall Plan” to arm teachers, and share this story:

Rep. Jose Oliva (R) – (850) 717-5110; [email protected]

Rep. Richard Corcoran (R) – (850) 717-5000; [email protected]

Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. (R) – (850) 717-5103; [email protected]

Rep. Jeanette Nunez (R) – (850) 717-5119; [email protected]

Rep. Holly Raschein (R) – (850) 717-5120; [email protected]

Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D) – (850) 717-5097; [email protected]

Rep. Katie Edwards (D) – (850) 717-5098; [email protected]

Rep. Kristin Jacobs (D) – (850) 717-5096; [email protected]

Sen. Joe Negron (R) – (850) 487-5025; [email protected] flsenate.gov

Sen. Anitere Flores (R) – (850) 487-5039; [email protected]

Sen. Lauren Book (D) – (850) 487–5032; [email protected]

Sen. Bill Montford (D) – (850) 487-5003; [email protected]

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Grant Stern

Editor at Large

Grant Stern is a columnist for the Washington Press. He's also mortgage broker, writer, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida.


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