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>”