Some Parkland survivors are underwhelmed by Florida’s new gun bill

The students who have vocally advocated for gun control policies say the legislation is a decent first step. But they said there's much more work to be done.
Parkland survivor Cameron Kasky appears on CNN Saturday, March 10. [Screengrab] Credit: CNN via American Bridge on YouTube
Parkland survivor Cameron Kasky appears on CNN Saturday, March 10. [Screengrab] Credit: CNN via American Bridge on YouTube
Published March 13, 2018|Updated March 13, 2018

Gov. Rick Scott made national headlines for defying the NRA when he signed the Legislature's gun bill into law Friday.

The New York Times called it a "dramatic turnaround."  NBC wrote that it was "a rare act of defiance in Florida against the National Rifle Association."

But some survivors of the Parkland school shooting say the Legislature didn't go far enough.

"Gov. Scott is trying to look like he's taking a step in the opposite of the direction of the NRA, but we know that's not really going to happen," Cameron Kasky, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, told Anderson Cooper during a CNN hit early Saturday. "And while seeing these two parties move in the right direction together is a positive thing, it's a baby step."

The NRA is suing the state over the law, SB 7026, which it says is "invalid under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments." (Read our breakdown of the legislation here.)

Kasky, an organizer of the March 24 "March for our Lives" against gun violence, was not alone in his skepticism.

"(Scott and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio) are STILL taking money from the NRA," David Hogg, Kasky's classmate and another vocal supporter of gun control, tweeted the day the bill passed. "The only reason they took action is because we did."

Even student messages praising the bill's passage noted that the legislation should be seen as a first step. Emma González, another vocal Douglas student, retweeted a post that called the bill "not entirely worthless" — hardly effusive praise.

Screengrab from Emma González’ Twitter feed. [Credit: Twitter]
Screengrab from Emma González’ Twitter feed. [Credit: Twitter]

Many of the student supporters of the so-called #NeverAgain movement have been harshly critical of the NRA and its considerable influence on Florida policy. They have called for a state ban on assault weapons like the one used by the Parkland shooter to kill 17 people on Feb. 14. (Recent polling has shown that a healthy majority of Floridians support an assault weapons ban.)

Although it contained no such ban, the bill passed by the Florida Legislature had the support of every one of the 17 Parkland victims' families.

Not every Parkland survivor is pro-gun control. Kyle Kashuv, who has met with just about every major figure in Washington — including President Trump — is focusing his advocacy on school safety and mental health legislation. He's tweeted dozens of times in support of Sen. Marco Rubio's "Stop School Violence Act."

The difference in Kashuv's approach has left him at odds with his classmates at times.

"We appreciate the steps being taken in the right direction, but this is not enough," Kasky tweeted to Kashuv on Monday about Rubio's bill.

"Cameron, in other words you'd prefer to…not back a bill that can pass in2 hopes of a bill that won't pass?" Kashuv answered.

"Settling for less than we deserve is weak and exactly what the corrupt politicians want," Kasky responded.