With the recent tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and similar “mass-shootings” that happen time and time again, everyone can agree it is time for this to stop, but it seems like no one knows how to get the ball rolling. Soon after the shooting, students began to speak out in outrage and demanded for the public support and legislative initiatives to prevent this situation from happening again. These students traveled to the state capital to make a stand and were left shocked with the results of a recent bill.
On Feb. 20, the Florida House of Representatives denied a bill which would set limitations and ban the sale, transfers and possession of assault weapons or large capacity ammunition magazines. At this session, students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting were in attendance and participated while the Florida House held a moment of silence at the beginning of their meeting.
So before representatives of the Florida voters voted on this bill, they held a moment of silence and recognized the students attendance, yet still had the audacity to overturn a bill that could prevent something like this from happening again. What’s even more shocking is this bill was filed on Oct. 3 by Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith. That means over a month before the shooting this could have been brought to the attention the House and even though it might have not prevented this from happening, it certainly was a step in the right direction to prevent future attacks.
This vote was brought down with a 31-71 majority voting against the bill. Many students were shocked by how fast these representatives voted and as Sheryl Acquaroli, a junior from Stoneman Douglas, said to CNN, “ It seemed almost heartless how they immediately pushed the button to say no.” Well Acquaroli, it didn’t seem heartless, it was, and you should be upset. We should all be upset by these actions. Our representatives are supposed to vote for us and represent what we as citizens of this great nation want for our country. According to a recent poll from Business Insider, 70 percent of Americans support stricter laws on assault weapons. If the public wants a bill to ban assault weapons then it should at least be discussed as the nature of our government intended: for public representation in government and instead of vetoing a bill without a clear distinction or reasoning for why it was opposed by our representatives.
Adding to the pain the students and the community are feeling, this bill titled HB 219 clearly outlines that “any selective-fire firearm capable of fully automatic, semi-automatic or burst fire at the option of the user… including the use of AR and AK series weapons” were to be banned and heavily regulated through the process of this bill. This means that not only could this bill have helped with the most recent attacks, it definitely would have prevented it from happening in the future. With so many innocent lives taken in the United States every year, I don’t think anyone can stomach another shooting, especially if there are bills like this that are actively being presented to legislation.
Where is the humanity in all of this? How after so many shootings and attacks in the U.S. have we held onto the Second Amendment with such a vice-like grip? The Second Amendment which allows us to bear arms needs a desperate update. Let’s not forget that when this right was granted to us, the only available gun of the time was a musket. We have definitely come a long way since then.
Politicians cannot avoid this issue any longer. The time for the voices to be heard is now and with the voices of the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas massacre at the helm, I think some progress might finally be made, but only if the playground politics of it all are put aside.