The state’s inaction has mobilized local and national leaders to make an urgent call for gun law reforms.
A week after the tragic mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, that left 19 children and two teachers dead, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had not made a public statement on the massacre that left the nation mourning.
Despite the state ranking second in mass shootings, with more than 2,568 people killed every year by gun violence, Republican leaders still fail to take action in support of common-sense legislation like universal background checks for gun buyers, assault weapon restrictions, a large capacity magazine ban, and strong concealed-carry laws that could prevent more tragedies.
In fact, DeSantis has previously stated his support for “constitutional carry,” which would allow people to carry guns without a concealed weapons permit. For his part, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who rates 6th on the chart of the 50 senators who have taken the most money from the National Rifle Association (NRA), has received an “A” rating from that organization. More alarmingly for some, during his 2021 Nation Freedom Tour, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz called Florida “the gunshine state,” and suggested there were no protesters at his rally because “they know my supporters are typically better armed […] than they are.”
A Dangerous Inaction
Florida’s failure to enact safer gun laws has mobilized local and national leaders to call on the nation, and the state, to move to stop gun violence.
Local leaders, like Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and US Rep. Charlie Crist, who are both running for governor in November, have urged the Republican majority Legislature to revise and implement new safety policies, with Fried last week calling for a gun regulation special session, and Crist offering ideas such as funding violence prevention strategies, among others, in his campaign website.
Nationally, the American Federation of Teachers, a nationwide teachers union, launched a campaign to call on political leaders “to enact commonsense gun legislation,” and US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said Tuesday in a written statement:
“As I recently said to members of Congress, I am ashamed that we as a country are becoming desensitized to these horrific tragedies. As parents, leaders, and educators, protecting our children is more important than anything else. The time for thoughts and prayers alone is over. We need legislative action. We can do better, and we must do better.”
Still, when it comes to talk of revising gun policies and adding more restrictions, Florida remains silent. Obstinately silent, some would say.
“How many children have to die before we act? […], asks State Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Miami Democrat and candidate for governor. “We continue to do nothing. Enough is enough! We failed after Sandy Hook. We failed after Parkland. Our kids cannot afford for us to fail now. Now is the time to stop the next Uvalde.”