Wednesday wasn’t a good day for Florida’s pro-gun lawmakers. especially Republican Elizabeth Porter who took issue with the idea that students were driving policy. Regardless, after plenty of dissension and rancor, the Florida legislature passed a gun control measure and it’s on its way to Governor Rick Scott’s desk.
But not before Porter lost her cool and lashed out at grieving Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who were there to press for tighter gun control legislation.
“We’ve been told that we need to listen to the children and do what the children ask,” said Republican Elizabeth Porter. “Are there any children on this floor? Are there any children making laws? Do we allow the children to tell us that we should pass a law that says no homework or you finish high school at the age of twelve just because they want it so?”
Maybe there aren’t any “children” in the legislature, but Porter sure sounded childish and insulting to these young people who have endured so much.
Sadly, she wasn’t content to stop there and included a rather embarrassing grammatical faux pas toward the end of her rant.
“No,” she said. “The adults make the laws because we have the age, we has the wisdom, and we have the experience.”
Here’s Porter in action in the video below.
Democrats and Republicans spent the better part of two days haggling over the controversial legislation that would, among other things: create a program to arm some teachers; require a three-day waiting period and raise the minimum age from 18 to 21 to purchase a gun.
And it seems there was plenty of rancor on both sides.
Several members of the legislature, as well as parents whose children attend the school where 17 lives were brutally ended, were squarely behind the measure, even with the controversial part that pledges to arm teachers. However, teachers, teacher’s unions, and other educators were not.
Neither, it seems, is Scott, who said he intends to take some time talking to family members who lost loved ones in a shooting at the middle school three weeks ago.
“I’m going to take the time to read the bill,” he said. “I have been clear. I don’t believe we should be arming teachers.”
And Scott Mazur, president of a local teacher’s association also voiced opposition.
“The Leon Classroom Teacher’s Association does not want anyone in the schools with a weapon who is not a sworn law enforcement officer,” he said. “There’s good and bad in this bill. I guess it comes down to morals.”
Under the auspices of this bill, any school employee who is a member of the U.S. Reserves or National Guard, or who is in the Junior Reserves Training Corps program, or a current or former law enforcement officer, would be eligible to carry a gun. Staff members could volunteer for this program, but teachers who only provide instruction would not be allowed in the program. Called a School Marshall Plan, this measure would be the first of its kind in the U.S.
As expected, there were some who were upset that the legislature refused to ban assault weapons, while others wanted lawmakers to reject new restrictions on gun ownership. They insisted it was unfair to punish law-abiding gun owners for the acts of a mentally ill teenager.
And thus it went on. And on. Others also called for a special session to deal with school safety and guns. The Democrats manned (and womanned) up and voted 21-9 to vote no as a caucus.
Urging the group to follow their consciences, Democratic Leader Janet Cruz had this to say:
“We live in America. You are allowed to voice your opinion without political prosecution,” she told the nine who dissented. “No one should be bullied for their decision or their vote.”
Some attempted to prolong the session in the hopes of producing stricter gun laws and a ban on automatic weapons.
“This giant gun package was cobbled together with half-baked ideas that haven’t been fully-vetted and is being crammed down our throats,” said Orlando Democratic Rep. Carlos Smith. “We need more time if we want a comprehensive approach to address the epidemic of gun violence in Florida.”
The final bill offers nearly a half billion dollars for school security and mental health programs, something its supporters found too tempting to ignore.
“If you vote against this proposal it will be because you did not get everything you wanted,” said Rep. George Moriatis, (R-Lauderdale). “There is always next year, members.”
There was plenty of dissension, but whether Scott will sign the bill or veto it is for him to know and the rest of us to find out.
You can watch legislators discuss the measure below.
Featured image courtesy of CBS This Morning via YouTube video