With politicians across the country recalibrating their positions on gun control legislation after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the effect that a group of teenaged activist student survivors has had on the long-stalled national debate on gun legislation reform is undeniable.
From provoking a CNN Town Hall debate that put Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) in one of the most uncomfortable positions of his political career to inspiring an unprecedented conversation in the White House about seizing guns from people deemed mentally ill, the student activists have pushed NRA-funded Republican politicians to scramble for new responses to the massive epidemic of gun violence in our country as public opinion is swayed by the intelligent and articulate arguments that these innocent victims of tragedy have been advocating since they lost their friends and teachers two short weeks ago.
While the Republican-controlled State government in Florida initially acted as if it was business as usual when the students converged on the capital in Tallahassee, voting to restrict pornography while refusing to ban assault rifles, close gun show background check loopholes, or even raise the legal age for purchasing assault weapons, Governor Rick Scott has finally realised that the environment has changed sufficiently in the last few days that he can’t let himself be perceived as doing nothing at all in response.
Being in the pocket of the NRA, however, means that Governor Scott and the Republican legislature have chosen to respond to the crisis in the exact opposite way that the students and the majority of the American people would want.
Taking their cues from the lobbyists for gun manufacturers and from President Trump’s quarter-brained idea of arming teachers, Florida’s elected officials have decided to allow concealed carry guns in the classroom, train teachers to use guns, and spend half a billion dollars on new school security measures including steel doors, bulletproof glass, and metal detectors, as well as a token amount for mental health counselors in schools.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 28, 2018
Emma González, the shaven-headed student activist who’s been among the most high profile of the Parkland students who joined together to form the #NeverAgainMSD movement, saw what Governor Scott was trying to do.
She immediately took to Twitter to point out that these actions he’s proposing, while handy for making it look like he’s actually responding to a long ignored, but critical social issue, was really just a smokescreen for avoiding the actions that would solve the problem, but alienate their NRA donors. Namely, banning assault weapons.
TELL THAT TO THE SCHOOLS WHO ALREADY HAVE ALL THOSE PRECAUTIONS AND STILL EXPERIENCE GUN VIOLENCE https://t.co/aOVmIPfFsV
— Emma González (@Emma4Change) February 28, 2018
While González is one of the few people who have the first-hand experience as a witness to a mass school shooting, Governor Scott and the other Republican leaders in Florida would rather take their cues from the gun industry and its shills than from the people who need to be protected from gun violence.
González and the other student activists will need to keep these politicians feet to the fire to put the fear of losing office into their souls before they see the kind of progress they want in terms of gun regulations. If they don’t get the results they want, then they need to turn their activism towards ensuring that none of these recalcitrant NRA-boosters get re-elected and that progressive leaders willing to protect our society from maniacal gun nuts take their place.