Gun-rights group blames Parkland massacre on Florida lawmakers

Democrats and gun control advocates are blaming Wednesday’s school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on lax state and federal gun laws.
But a Second Amendment group is pointing the finger at the Florida Legislature for refusing to approve a law that would allow concealed weapon license holders to bring their guns to schools.
In an open letter to Florida lawmakers sent Friday, Florida Carry demanded that the Republican-controlled Legislature hurriedly pass legislation the organization’s general counsel, Eric Friday, maintains would make schools safer.
Florida Carry is asking House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron to:
    • Pass emergency legislation to eliminate gun-free zones for law-abiding concealed carry licensees;
    • Pass emergency legislation authorizing all teachers in public schools who possess a CWFL to carry their licensed, concealed firearm if they so choose, without repercussion;
    • Provide immediate funding of one million dollars in grants for county school boards and sheriffs to implement pilot programs of the Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER) Program in the State of Florida.
The day after the school shooting that left 17 individuals — including 14 teens — dead,  the guns-at-school measure popped up on next week’s Senate Judiciary Committee’s agenda for its first hearing, more than midway through the session. The committee is headed by Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican who has pushed for NRA-backed bills.
Here’s the full text of the Florida Carry missive:
As the State of Florida mourns the loss of innocent lives on Wednesday in Broward County, I mourn too, but I am also angry. I am angry that the Florida Legislature has once again enabled an evil individual to take innocent lives because the Legislature refuses to acknowledge the fact that that evil people will not follow the laws it passes. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the Legislature acts as if the laws it passes will stop criminals. Laws punish wrongdoing, they do not stop wrongdoers. Yet Florida continues to prohibit licensed law-abiding citizens from possessing the tools to protect themselves and their children from mass murder.
Despite the repeated failure of so called “gun-free zones”, the Florida Legislature has taken no steps over the past seven years to protect our children. While the responsibility for Wednesday’s events rests solely with the actions of the evil person who committed this act, it is the Legislature that has enabled such tragedies to occur. It is the Legislature’s inaction that has made such tragedies worse.
The Legislature has ignored the repeated requests of Florida Carry, other civil rights groups, and the law-abiding citizens of this state to give up the fallacy of “gun-free zones”. This body has left our children and their teachers defenseless. It has kowtowed to anti-freedom groups and has blocked or refused to hear common-sense legislation to protect our children and the professionals to whom we entrust our children’s care on a daily basis.
It is a well-established fact from numerous such events that bad people with guns will only stop their carnage when confronted by an armed response. Every second until that response occurs allows the murderer to kill and maim more innocents.
From 1987 until now, every time the Legislature has acted to restore the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect those for whom they love and care, those citizens have responsibly exercised the trust placed in them. Every time, those citizens have proven the claims of the anti-gun forces to be lies. Every time, the claims of dire consequences for returning rights to the people have proven false.
This case was not a failure of law-abiding citizens to act responsibly. This was another failure of law enforcement to investigate and stop a deranged individual. People did SEE something, and people did SAY something, but law-enforcement failed to fully investigate and prosecute the shooter for prior crimes. Just as in Sutherland Springs, law-enforcement’s failure is being blamed on law-abiding citizens and their legal firearms. Law-abiding citizens cannot rely on law enforcement to protect them and must be given the means to protect themselves.
The time for half-measures and incrementalism is over. It is past time to give ‘we the people’, our teachers, and the parents volunteering in schools the ability to defend themselves and stop these tragedies.
The time to act is now. For years, many in the Legislature have touted their NRA ratings. They have claimed to be on the side of the law-abiding citizens with licenses who, for over three decades, have proven themselves more law-abiding than even the police officers who heroically responded Wednesday. Why then, should these same citizens be left defenseless while they await law enforcement’s response?
In every state that has allowed law-abiding citizens to carry in schools, the citizens have proven equal to the challenge. None of these states have suffered what Florida suffered Wednesday. Those state have eliminated a favorite target of the deranged individuals who commit such evil.
Florida Carry hereby calls on the Legislature to immediately:
  1. Pass emergency legislation to eliminate gun-free zones for law-abiding concealed carry licensees;
  2. Pass emergency legislation authorizing all teachers in public schools who possess a CWFL to carry their licensed, concealed firearm if they so choose, without repercussion;
  3. Provide immediate funding of one million dollars in grants for county school boards and sheriffs to implement pilot programs of the Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER) Program in the State of Florida. http://fastersaveslives.org
Though the Legislature’s inaction enabled Wednesday’s events, errors of judgment can be corrected if good people are willing to admit they were wrong. It is time for those who support the Second Amendment, who recognize that armed citizens are an asset, and who truly want to protect our children, to recognize and admit that evil will not obey laws. Evil will not respect gun-free zones. Evil will not be stopped by anything other than armed response. The longer that response, the more innocent lives lost.
I am reminded today of the teachers at Sandy Hook who died trying to shield the children they loved from evil. An unarmed person is just another victim. An armed person is a force who can stop the carnage. It is within the Legislature’s power to make sure that if it happens again, the response will be faster and fewer innocent lives will be lost.
As a father of two public school children I cannot wait any longer. I want my children to be safe when they are not with me. I will not rest until the Florida Legislature takes action to protect my children and their friends. If it will not be done by those already in the Legislature, it will be done by those who replace them.
Sincerely,
Eric J. Friday
General Counsel, Florida Carry, Inc.
Father

Gibson, Berman demand action on gun removal bill

gun-pistolSome Florida Democrats are demanding that House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron allow the vetting of legislation that wold allow family members or law enforcement officers to obtain court orders to temporarily remove guns from the homes of individuals who have demonstrated they are a danger to themselves or could be violent.

The call for the bills come in the aftermath of Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz gunned down 17 individuals, including 14 teenagers.

Cruz had a highly troubled past prior to unleashing a hail of bullets from a semi-automatic assault weapon after being dropped off at the high school, from which he was expelled, by an Uber driver on Valentine’s Day.

Sen. Audrey Gibson and Rep. Lori Berman are asking that the bills (SB 530, HB 231) — which mirror a proposal pushed by U.S. Rep. Val Demings, an Orlando Democrat and former police chief — get a hearing before the legislative session ends on March 9.

“Now more than ever, these bills must be heard. The most recent shooting is unacceptable and too tragic to comprehend. It is time we step up and come together to act on meaningful gun safety reform,” Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, said in a press release. “As a mother, my heart breaks for these families. There are no words to describe the horror of a child not returning home from school. Florida needs to set an example for the rest of the nation by not just demanding action but taking action.”

The legislation potentially could have prevented the Parkland tragedy had it been in place, the Democrats asserted.

“With so many mass shootings and the mantra ‘now is not the time to talk about gun control’ we will never have the discussion,” Gibson said in the release.

Plakon gets inked, for love & a purpose

27858061_10211168422390009_9209410574083576882_nState Rep. Scott Plakon, not exactly the guy who comes to mind when you think of body art, got a tattoo.

“Really. I’m not kidding. A real one,” the Longwood Republican wrote on his Facebook page, where he also posted photos of what looks like a painful process.

The inking was an “unusual gift” for his wife, Susie, who has Alzheimer’s Disease.

In the social media post, Plakon wrote that his “new life’s mission” is to heighten awareness to the reality of Alzheimer’s.

“What better way to make it permanent than to get a tattoo?” Plakon wrote.

The politician said he stopped at “Infamous Tattoos” in Leesburg on his way home from Tallahassee, where he personalized the purple ribbon signifying Alzheimer’s.

plakon ink

“Susie’s favorite flower is the daisy. For the last three years the name of our team at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s has been “Unforgettable Daisy” in honor of Susie. Sort of an unusual gift but Happy Valentines Day Susie Plakon!”

Smith: What are the House’s priorities, post-Parkland?

Floridians once again are mourning, following a mass shooting at a high school in Broward County on Valentine’s Day.

The massacre resulted in 17 deaths, so far, and is the second worst school shooting in U.S. history, behind the shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20 children aged 7 or under and 6 adults were slain.

The killings at the Parkland high school Wednesday prompted state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat from Orlando, to question the priorities of the Republican-dominated House.

“These people today, ask them if they deserve a hearing,” Smith said Wednesday of those impacted at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, noting the rainbow ribbon on his lapel that honors the 50 people killed at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in 2016.

“While we sit here and hear stories at length about one person in San Francisco who was murdered — a tragedy — something that didn’t have anything to do with a sanctuary city, yet that’s the driving reason behind House Bill 9,” said Smith.

Smith has unsuccessfully pushed a measure (HB 219) that would prohibit the sale, transfer or possession of assault weapons or large-capacity ammunition magazines.

The measure has failed to get a hearing this session.

“I have had many conversations about my legislation and what is really frustrating is the priorities in this chamber,” Smith said. “My bill went straight to the Criminal Justice Subcommittee and it has not been given a hearing two years in a row. But do you want to know what the chair of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee does think is a priority: declaring porn as a public health crisis. These are the priorities of this chamber.”

A measure (HB 157) by Subcommittee Chairman Ross Spano, a Republican from Dover, seeks to have pornography declared a public health risk. The proposal has already reached the House floor.

“We’ve got an opioid crisis, but yet the budget underfunds programs that will help with that crisis,” Smith said. “We have a public health crisis related to gun violence. We’re still 50th in the nation in funding for mental health care. These are super, super important issues that are life or death issues for Floridians. Why aren’t they a priority>”

Scrambling for gambling

As talks between key lawmakers and the Seminoles heat up, the anti-gambling group behind a constitutional amendment going on this fall’s ballot is taking to the air waves to scold the Legislature for trying to beat voters to the punch.

Voters In Charge, the political committee that pushed the “Voter Control of Gambling Amendment,” is running a 30-second TV ad and a 60-second radio ad — in additional to digital and social media advertising — starting today, according to a release issued by the group this morning.

If approved, voters statewide would have to approve any expansion of gambling, something now largely controlled by the Legislature. A recent poll showed 76 percent support for the measure, which will appear as Amendment 3 on the November ballot and was largely bankrolled by a Disney company and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Anticipating passage of the proposal, legislators are scurrying to craft a new 20-year agreement with the Seminoles, prompting the attack from Voters in Charge.

“They’re trying desperately to expand gambling now, before voters have their say,” a female voiceover on the TV ad scolds.

Sen. Bill Galvano and House Speaker-designate Jose Oliva met with Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen, and the tribe’s lobbyist Will McKinley, yesterday. Galvano told Truth or Dara he expects the Seminoles to give the legislative leaders a draft compact this week.

“The reaction by gambling lobbyists and Tallahassee politicians shows exactly why we need Amendment 3,” Sowinski said in the release announcing the ads.

 

Nelson to Trump: Don’t outsource space!

iss054e022063Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida who likes to remind you he’s traveled into outer space, is criticizing a proposal by President Donald Trump to privatize the International Space Station after its current U.S. funding expires in 2024.

“The administration’s budget for NASA is a nonstarter,” Nelson said in a release. “If we’re ever going to get to Mars with humans on board and return them safely, then we need a larger funding increase for NASA. The proposal would also end support for the International Space Station in 2025 and make deep cuts to popular education and science programs. Turning off the lights and walking away from our sole outpost in space at a time when we’re pushing the frontiers of exploration makes no sense.”

Trump’s budget proposal for 2019 has NASA turning over operations of the station to commercial operators or the other nations partnering on the space platform after 2024. Nelson’s already griped about the president’s position on NASA.

The station costs about $3 billion a year to run.

The station is currently expected to be in use through 2028, the 30th year after its first component was launched into orbit.

President Barack Obama in 2008 extended the U.S. operational portion of the ISS until 2024.

— By Jim Turner.

Left out of immigration debate, Levine takes out his checkbook

In a one-two advertising punch, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is taking on both President Donald Trump and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, lashing them for promoting hate and intolerance.

The former Miami Beach mayor’s campaign is launching a one-week $250,000 buy in Florida for a 30-second television ad that slams Corcoran for “broadcasting a message of hate,” referring to the Republican House speaker’s ad on “sanctuary cities” and a shooting involving an undocumented immigrant.

Levine’s camp announced the ad buy a day before Corcoran is scheduled to debate Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat facing off against Levine in a primary later this year.

“I have zero tolerance for intolerance. Speaker Richard Corcoran is attempting to divide our state and our country by attacking and bullying those who do not look like him, on a cynical belief that this will propel his campaign for governor,” Levine said in a statement. “Those are the qualities of a bully, not a leader.”

In a more unusual move, Levine’s campaign is also doing a $20,000 targeted cable buy for the ad in Washington, D.C., running on the Fox News and CNN channels, aiming at Trump.

“I want President Trump to know that his efforts to divide us through intolerance is intolerable, and the people of Florida and this country stand united against his divisive rhetoric and policies,” Levine said in a statement.

Political consultant Christian Ulvert, senior advisor to Levine’s campaign, told reporters Monday morning the campaign is going to keep up an “aggressive push” on digital media as well.

“We are going to continue to do that to make sure that this type of race-bating by the speaker is rebutted directly with Floridians and they hear a different message from our campaign, one of respect and inclusion,” Ulvert said.

Here’s the transcript of the ad, which is also running Spanish:

Levine: In Washington these days, they’re taking shots at immigrants who’ve devoted their lives to this country.

Levine: Now one Tallahassee politician is broadcasting a message of hate aimed at every man, woman and child that doesn’t look like him.

Levine: It’s bad enough we hear this from a President who bullies for a living. What’s worse are those who encourage it.

Levine: I want Florida to show America that we won’t be threatened by anyone, because we believe in everyone.

Announcer: Philip Levine for Governor.

— By Lloyd Dunkelberger