The Triumph of the Parkland Students, In the Face of the GOP’s Failure
By: Terrie Rizzo, Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman
Like so many Floridians, my own thoughts since the Parkland tragedy have been filled with a rush of emotions. Shock, anger, and a fresh resolve that our leaders in Tallahassee must finally take action to make us safer from gun violence. Sadly, we’ve felt this succession of emotions too many times before.
But this time, it’s different, because of the brave Stoneman Douglas students: thank God for their voices, because we know what Governor Rick Scott and the GOP in Tallahassee would do on their own: absolutely nothing.
We know Scott and Tallahassee Republicans can’t be trusted to take meaningful action to keep us safe, because we’ve seen them break their promises before.
After Pulse, after Fort Lauderdale, each time this kind of tragedy has struck our state, Scott and the Republican controlled legislature offered commitments and promises. Then they refused to take action because their special interests backers and the gun lobby didn’t want them to.
For eight years, Scott has advanced an agenda that has made Floridians less safe from gun violence. He’s opposed basic, common sense measures like expanded background checks and a ban on assault weapons. He’s restricted local communities from developing their own gun safety initiatives. He slashed funding for school safety and mental health programs, but offered taxpayer funded incentives to AK-47 and AR-15 producers in Florida. Under his watch, Florida ranks in the bottom of the nation in funding for mental health care, and has “some of the weakest gun laws in [the] nation.”
It shouldn’t have taken this tragedy, or the ones before it, to get Scott and Florida’s Republican leaders in the House and Senate to consider doing the bare minimum to keep us safe — and the bare minimum is nowhere near enough. But our Republican leadership, especially Scott, only do anything when they think it benefits their political ambitions. And that’s exactly why Floridians can’t trust Rick Scott or the GOP to look out for us on this critical issue.
We’ve seen these kinds of politics from Scott and the GOP before. They say one thing, do the opposite, and hope Floridians don’t notice that in the process they’ve put their own political agenda over what’s best for our state once again.
But this time, we need to take the message of the Stoneman Douglas students to heart. This is just the beginning. We need to fight every day for the kinds of gun safety measures that will help stop this tragedy from ever happening again.
And to politicians like Rick Scott who have spent their careers doing the bidding of the NRA and the gun lobby instead of keeping us safe, we need to deliver on the student’s message: if you won’t keep Florida safe from gun violence, you will not be elected.