By: Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published on February 21, 2018
With survivors of the Valentine’s Day Massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School watching from the gallery, the Florida House of Representatives voted down a motion to take up a bill that would ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines in the state. The measure failed yesterday on a 36-71 vote.
Even though 17 students and staff members died and 14 more were wounded in a hail of bullets fired from an AK-15 assault rifle at this Parkland, Florida school on February 14, 2018, their tragic deaths did not move a majority of state legislators who are controlled by the National Rifle Association. To them, pleasing the NRA is more important than protecting school children from the next deranged gun owner who craves an opportunity to commit mass murder with his high-powered assault weapon.
The survivors at Marjory Stoneman Doughlas have discovered for themselves what students, staffers, and parents in Newtown, Connecticut learned following the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre -- the lives of school children do not matter in the highly profitable world of buying and selling assault weapons. Remember, 20 elementary school children and 6 staffers were massacred inside Sandy Hook.
This is the same lesson America learned after the April 20, 1999, school massacre at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado where senior students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold massacred 12 students and one teacher and injured 21 others with their assault weapons.
Prior to the Parkland school massacre, AR-15-style rifles have been used in recent mass shootings at in Aurora, Colo.; Santa Monica and San Bernardino, Calif.; and Orlando, Florida.
Yet, Florida legislators showed the world that the lives of school children in their state are expendable. They took this controversial vote just six days after the Parkman school massacre.
What is worse, some misguided NRA supporters began smearing survivors of the Parkland school massacre who are pushing for a ban on assault weapons. Neither the NRA, nor its cadre of lawmakers in the halls of government, has condemned this despicable smearing campaign.
The NRA flexed it political muscle in Florida to demonstrate exactly who controls national, state, and local legislation on gun registrations and background checks. The families of the murdered students and survivors of these school massacres routinely get “thoughts and prayers” from politicians who have the power to protect them. Conversely, the NRA gets total control over gun ownership laws.
With this awakening, the proponents of school safety must now turn their attention to the critical role played by the NRA, its board of directors and top executive officers in the fight to ban assault weapons and large capacity magazines. Clearly, these political power players are a big part of the school massacre problem. It is time for the bright spotlight of national media coverage to shine on them.
PHOTO: Sheryl Acquarola, a 16 year-old junior from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is overcome with emotion in the gallery of the Florida House of Representatives after state representatives voted on February 20, 2018 not to hear a bill banning assault rifles and large capacity magazines.