Seeking to ensure that the weapons capable of killing scores of innocent people in less than 60 seconds are part of the upcoming Senate committee discussions on mass murder and white supremacy, Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson on Wednesday requested that three key gun reform measures be included in the Senate President’s call for action. [Read more…] about Senate Democrats call for inclusion of gun reform measures, including assault weapons ban, in upcoming “Mass Shootings/White Nationalism” committee hearings
As part of ongoing efforts to get Congress to act on gun control, U.S. Sen Bill Nelson (D-FL) hosted an emotional hearing today with those directly impacted by gun violence, including two members of the Parkland, FL community, who are calling on Congress to pass commonsense gun regulations.
David Hogg, a 17-year-old student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, and Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School just three weeks ago, both testified at the hearing, and called on Congress to take immediate action.
Nelson introduced the two Floridians, noting their incredible advocacy for gun violence prevention.
“David and his fellow classmates have taken this issue and made it the number one issue that they are talking about nationally. While David was the target of an ugly conspiracy – and that conspiracy came from the far right – he has not let that stop him from continuing to speak out on the need for legislation that prevents gun violence from taking more lives,” Nelson said. “Well, what Fred has done is he’s taken this devastating loss and he’s turned it into a platform for advocacy on gun violence prevention and the need to protect students and alumni from that school who are leading this movement.”
In the wake of the shooting in Parkland, a movement led by students and parents like David Hogg and Fred Guttenberg has swept across the country, and is now bringing their case to Congress.
“I have dedicated the rest of my life to fighting for the cause of gun safety. I will not stop. No other parent should ever go through what my family and 16 other families are going through,” Fred Guttenberg said in his testimony today. “What is unfathomable is how this is not unique to us. This had become something that was becoming way too common. This time, the gun rights crowd messed with the wrong community, the wrong kids, and the wrong dad.”
“Just three weeks ago gun violence took the lives of 17 people in Parkland, Florida and today we heard from a parent and student directly affected. It was incredibly powerful and heartbreaking and I am grateful for all the witnesses who shared their stories today,” Nelson said after the hearing. “What happened in Parkland should never happen again, and I stand with these students, parents and families in demanding action. We must come together now to get something done.”
The hearing today was intended to give members of the U.S. Senate the opportunity to hear directly from survivors and family members who lost loved ones due to gun violence.
Video of Sen. Nelson’s introduction and remarks can be found here.
A full video of the hearing, including witness testimony, can be found here.
As students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglass returned to school today for the first time since the shooting, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) took to the Senate floor this evening to urge his colleagues to act on common sense gun reform measures.
“We’ve seen an entire community turn its grief and outrage into a massive call for change – and we’ve done nothing,” Nelson said. “If these brave young students who lost their fellow students and faculty aren’t enough to break through the gridlock here in Congress, what is it going to take?”
Nelson cosponsored legislation in the Senate that would, among other things, ban the sale, transfer or manufacture of semi-automatic assault rifles, such as the AR-15. It would also ban so-called “bump stocks” and high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Nelson, who has called on Congress to expand universal background checks, has also cosponsored legislation that would close the so-called “gun show loophole” by requiring a background check for the sale or transfer of any firearm, regardless of where it is purchased.
“Let’s not let what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High fade into memory like so many other tragedies that have happened,” Nelson said. “Let’s do what so many before us have been unable to do – let’s take action. Let this massacre be the last massacre.”
- We do not support a three-day waiting period before someone can purchase a semiautomatic assault rifle.
- We do not believe raising the age for buying a semiautomatic assault rifle from 18 to 21 years of age goes far enough.
- We ask that our Legislature expand the scope of background checks to include private sales.
- We support removing weapons from domestic violence abusers and banning those with restraining orders from purchasing a firearm.
- We are strongly opposed to any arming of teachers. They do not have the tactical training to respond to an active shooter, nor should they be expected to undergo such training. We applaud Gov. Scott for taking this position as well.
College Democrats of America members are standing with the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by organizing rallies, lobbying in Tallahassee, and demanding action. Florida College Democrats Political Director, Kathryn Casello, and College Democrats of America Communications Director, Sophia Ward, released the following statements:
“These rallies prove how powerful the voices of students, educators, and advocates are,” said Florida College Democrats Political Director Kathryn Casello. “The victims of the Parkland mass shooting deserve more than our thoughts and prayers; they deserve action and change. College students and youth are paying attention, and they will be voting in November.”
“As a born and bred Floridian, the Parkland shooting was already far too close to home, but having two younger brothers in Florida public schools right now made this even more of a nightmare,” said CDA Communications Director Sophia Ward. “I am committed to encouraging students across the nation to vote on election day and elect officials who will listen to voters and pass legislation that will make our schools safer.”
Here’s a look at how College Democrats across Florida are joining the movement:
The Florida Atlantic University College Democrats organized a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting.
At the University of Miami, College Democrats collected signatures on campus to urge their elected officials to act on gun reform.
Florida State University College Democrats marched to the state capitol in Tallahassee to demand common-sense gun reform.
Source: Andrew Salinero via Twitter
The University of Florida College Democrats are planning a rally in Gainesville on March 24th to urge action from elected officials on this issue.
Source: UF College Dems
The Barry University College Democrats organized an event on campus, where more than 100 students wrote to their representatives demanding change.
By Brian Mast
The most important and unregrettable time of my life was the 12 years I spent in the Army. I became a bomb technician because I wanted to save lives. I nearly gave my own life for that — I lost both my legs and a finger when a roadside bomb detonated beneath me — and have known more heroes than I can count who died defending others.
When I was with others on the battlefield and we saw a chance to save a life, we didn’t have a meeting about it; we acted immediately. I never worried about becoming a casualty myself.
Now, as a Republican congressman from Florida, I don’t fear becoming a political casualty, either. If we act now by changing laws surrounding firearms and mental illness, we too can save lives.
Most nights in Afghanistan, I wielded an M4 carbine and a .40-caliber pistol. The total barrel length of my M4 was approximately 14 inches with Trijicon ACOG sights, as well as an infrared laser. I usually carried 10 magazines stacked with 20 rounds of 5.56-millimeter ammunition each.
My rifle was very similar to the AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon used to kill students, teachers and a coach I knew at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where I once lived.
I have fired tens of thousands of rounds through that rifle, many in combat. We used it because it was the most lethal — the best for killing our enemies. And I know that my community, our schools and public gathering places are not made safer by any person having access to the best killing tool the Army could put in my hands. I cannot support the primary weapon I used to defend our people being used to kill children I swore to defend.
The truth is, most gun owners are responsible sportsmen and collectors who enjoy shooting recreationally, like me, or want to protect their home in the way they see fit. I am a longtime member of the National Rifle Association. My grandfather bought me my first NRA membership when I was young, and I have the same pride he and many Americans feel at being responsible gun owners, becoming excellent marksmen and joining in the camaraderie of hunting.
We are Americans and we like to be the best; we should never lose this trait. The AR-15 is an excellent platform for recreational shooters to learn to be outstanding marksmen. Unfortunately, it is also an excellent platform for those who wish to kill the innocent.
I conceal and carry a 9-millimeter pistol most days because I know the threats, and I don’t want to die because I am unprepared to return fire.
I also know that I am made less safe by the threat of tactical rifles. I am confident I can eliminate an active shooter who is attacking with a pistol because the attacker would have to be close to me. But the defense my concealed 9-millimeter affords me is largely gone if the attacker is firing from beyond 40 yards, as he could easily do with the AR-15.
No firearm is evil. Guns are tools that fulfill the intent of their users, good or bad. But we’ve seen that the rifle of choice for many mass shooters is the AR-15.
The Second Amendment is unimpeachable. It guarantees the right of citizens to defend themselves. I accept, however, that it does not guarantee that every civilian can bear any and all arms.
For example, the purchase of fully automatic firearms is largely banned already, and I cannot purchase an AT-4 rocket, grenades, a Bradley fighting vehicle or an Abrams tank. I know that no single action can prevent a truly determined person from committing mass murder, and I am aware of other ways to commit mass murder, such as bombings and mass vehicular slaughter. Not being able to control everything, however, should not prevent us from doing something.
Therefore, I support the following:
Defining what constitutes an assault or tactical firearm and not allowing them for future purchase — just as we already prohibit the purchase of fully automatic firearms. The exact definition of assault weapon will need to be determined. But we should all be able to agree that the civilian version of the very deadly weapon that the Army issued to me should certainly qualify. I would not support any version of a ban that results in confiscating existing legally owned firearms.
Ensuring that every firearm purchaser has a background check. We also need to improve the background check system.
Banning the sale of accessories and add-ons that circumvent the ban on automatic firearms, and increasing the ages at which individuals can purchase various categories of firearms.
Ensuring that those who have been detained for mental illness, or have been ordered by courts to receive treatment for mental illness, cannot purchase firearms.
Ensuring that someone who is being looked at as a possible terrorist, through a system of due process, cannot purchase a firearm and that any person threatening to shoot or blow up a school, in word or on social media, is placed on an F.B.I. watch list for a long time.
Providing behavior detection training to anyone seeking a Federal Firearms License.
Making substantial resources available to schools, at their discretion, for security measures, including the opportunity to purchase enhanced security screening, install classroom panic buttons wired directly to law enforcement and hire additional school resource officers.
Holding the F.B.I. and state agencies accountable for their failures to identify a threat like Nikolas Cruz, as well as ensuring that schools enforce basic security protocols to prevent access by unauthorized personnel.
And finally, conducting further research into the nexus of gun violence, violence in mass media and mental illness.
The president, House of Representatives, Senate, every state legislature, sheriffs, police officers, school boards, students and parents must unite with one mission: that no one will ever be murdered in school again.