Here we go again with the Florida madness: Another mass shooting shakes up the country — and a proposal to expose people to even more guns sails through an impassioned committee hearing of the Florida House.
A theme: God loves guns.
There’s no tragedy big enough or horrific enough to move Republican Florida lawmakers to legislate on behalf of gun safety. Their only answer to gun violence is to legislate in favor of more guns, more availability and more portability. The body count doesn’t sway them.
The final death toll for the college campus shooting in Oregon last week wasn’t yet final — 10 are dead, seven still fighting for their lives — when another unspeakable act of gun violence unfolded two days later.
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On Saturday, in White Pine, Tenn., an 11-year-old boy shot to death his 8-year-old neighbor, McKayla Dyer, over an argument about puppies. Each child was playing with a puppy. The boy asked McKayla if he could see hers. She said no. He stormed off to his house, retrieved his father’s 12-gauge shotgun from a closet and shot her in the chest.
In the view of Florida legislators pushing HB 163, an open-carry bill that passed a subcommittee Tuesday, bandying more guns around is the only way to adequately address such repeated acts of violence. The bill, which allows concealed permit holders to openly carry their weapons, comes courtesy of the son-father team of Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, sponsor of the Senate version, member of the National Rifle Association and proud winner of its “Rough Rider Award. “
Because it’s not enough that there are an estimated 300 million guns in this country — we also have to flaunt them.
Because, as Matt Gaetz put it, his gun bill restores rights “granted not by government but by God.”
Another bill in the pipeline — opposed by law enforcement, teachers, administrators and most Floridians, according to a study — would allow guns on college campuses.
Why not invite would-be assassins and nut jobs for an all-out Wild West shootout to go along with your education?
Instead of addressing gun violence with common-sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, as in the case of the Oregon shooter, and to require safety training for gun owners like the father of the 11-year-old who kept his shotgun unlocked in a closet and accessible to his angry child, it’s all about proliferation policies for Florida lawmakers.
How else can one sell more NRA memberships and trinkets (leather holsters! lightweight tactical pants!) than to make guns something you carry to walk your dog, buy a latte, shop for newborn accessories?
That’s how committed lawmakers are — not to the interests of those who put them in office with their votes, but to the organization that propels them into office and funds their political ambitions: the NRA and the Florida Carry lobby.
Only access to the wealth of the gun industry can explain why the only vision Florida lawmakers can come up with in the face of gun violence is proliferation — and why, when all else fails, they resort to calling upon their manhandled God.
As if we weren’t horrified enough.