State Rep. Jared Moskowitz was on the House floor Wednesday afternoon when his wife sent him a text saying their son’s preschool in Parkland was on lockdown.
Moskowitz called police, confirmed it was an active shooting and told House Speaker Richard Corcoran he was heading back to the district. Before his plane landed, the Coral Spring Democrat’s anger was palpable. “Hell is waiting for this shooter. But that’s not good enough,’’ he tweeted after boarding the plane.
After Moskowitz arrived and he met with the families waiting for details about their children, he said he began to realize what the families of the Pulse victims also knew: “My colleagues will do nothing.”
“We’ve seen this show before,’’ he said Thursday. “Now it’s in my hometown. While my 4-year-old son was learning to write his name in preschool, his teacher’s daughter was killed in the shooting. We live in the most powerful country in the world and we have failed our children.
“You know what is going to happen after this? Nothing,” he said. “Politicians need to look these parents in the face and say: We will do nothing.”
Moskowitz, a 1999 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said his 4-year-old goes to school in Parkland, the high school is blocks from his home, and he represented the district first as a city commissioner and now as a legislator.
But on Thursday, after meeting with Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, he described his frustration at the uneven application of outrage of some of the state’s leaders.
“If someone from another country had done this, if the shooter had used the word ‘ISIS,’ this country would not hesitate to put laws in place to prevent it,” he said. “But if it’s a local student, who buys an AR-15 on the street, we do nothing.”
He noted that state law prevents local government officials from passing stronger laws to protect people from mass shootings, even allowing for the arrest of officials who do.
“This kid walked into a Broward gun shop and bought an assault weapon,” he said. “He was prepared to pick off students like it’s a video game. The FBI had warnings. The school district knew it. But if he had said ‘ISIS,’ if he had been from a foreign country, the government would move heaven and earth to go after him.”
Moskowitz, who has earned a reputation as a Democrat who can work with Republicans, said the lack of will is attributable to a political system that rewards the extremes.
“We set up a system in which we have gerrymandered the districts so it’s all about the primary and we’ve elected extreme candidates — on both sides,” he said. “I know these Republicans. They are not the people you see in TV. They are sensible — but they are held hostage to the issue. Elected officials are more worried about losing their seat than saving children.”
There are solutions, he said, but they will not be easy.
“We need the stronger background checks to include people who have mental health issues and people who are telling others they want to hurt people,” he said. “If someone is telling everyone they want to hurt people, if they broadcast it on social media, can’t we at least agree to change the law to prevent them from being able to buy a gun? If we can’t agree on that, we can’t agree on anything.”
But, Moskowitz added, “it’s not a lack of resources. It’s a lack of action and leadership.”