Florida lawmakers refuse to debate assault rifles, but say porn is dangerous

What's more of a public health risk: assault weapons or porn?After ...

Posted: Feb. 22, 2018 10:20 AM
Updated: Feb. 22, 2018 10:20 AM

What's more of a public health risk: assault weapons or porn?

After 17 students and teachers were gunned down at a Florida high school, the state Legislature voted 71-36 Tuesday against a measure to consider banning the sale of assault weapons.

Most lawmakers who voted against discussing assault weapons have an "A" rating by the NRA

But state legislators did vote for a declaration saying porn "is creating a public health risk"

But on the same day, it declared pornography to be a public health risk.

The decision not to consider an assault rifles ban on the state House floor outraged survivors of the massacre.

"It was just so heartbreaking to see how many (voters') names were up there, especially after it was my school," said 16-year-old Sheryl Acquaroli, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

"It seemed almost heartless how they immediately pushed the button to say no."

Read Florida House Bill 219

About 100 survivors from the high school traveled 450 miles from Parkland to the state capital to speak to legislators Wednesday.

Their primary demand: for lawmakers to ban weapons similar to the AR-15 style rifle used to kill their classmates.

"We're all here because we need to strive for change, and the legislation needs to change, because we've fallen victim to lazy legislation for far too long," student Kai Koerber said.

Another survivor, Florence Yared, stressed that she didn't want to ban all guns.

"I'm not trying to take away your Second Amendment rights, nor am I trying to eliminate all guns. But we cannot protect our guns before we protect our children," the 17-year-old said.

"The only purpose of an assault weapon like this is to kill, and to kill as many people as possible. The AR-15 is not a self-defense weapon. It is called an assault weapon. Assault. Think about this word."

What the assault weapon bill says

Florida House Bill 219 would largely ban the future sale of assault weapons in the state, with exceptions made for law enforcement and military personnel. The bill's list of assault weapons includes AR-15 rifles.

Those who already own an assault weapon could apply for a certificate of ownership.

Almost all 71 lawmakers who voted against considering the measure have an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association.

Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell was among those who voted Tuesday against debating the bill.

"We've got to focus on what the real problem is. You've got a problem with these lone-wolf terrorists. That's what these people are," Caldwell said Wednesday. "We've got to be focusing on identifying those individuals."

But Stoneman Douglas senior Chris Grady, one of the massacre survivors demanding change, gave an ultimatum to state lawmakers:

"If you're not with us, you're against us, and you're against saving the lives of innocent children. And we are going to be voting you out."

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