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  1. Opinion

Editorial: Florida Senate values guns over kids

Published Mar. 5, 2018

By a single vote, the Florida Senate on Monday approved a sweeping response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre that includes too little gun control and too much emphasis on transforming schools into armed fortresses. Republicans altered an unpopular plan to arm teachers to allow personnel such as principals, counselors and librarians — but not most teachers — to secretly carry guns. That is window dressing for what remains a dangerous plan to put more guns on campuses. Only law enforcement officers should carry guns in schools. The legislation has positive provisions such as raising the age to buy all guns to 21, more spending for mental health and added school security. Yet Douglas High survivors and families of the 17 victims — and most voters — do not want to arm teachers. They want to ban the sale of semiautomatic assault rifles and large magazines. The Senate placed guns above kids Saturday, rejecting a ban by a 20-17 vote (see roll call, below). The bill goes today to the House, which has refused to even debate a ban. Tell legislators they aren't listening to Floridians.

As Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, noted Monday, Democrats tried compromise after compromise and Republicans rejected every significant attempt to improve the legislation. The Republicans' arguments for arming school personnel and blocking bans on the sale of semiautomatic assault rifles would be comical if the stakes weren't so high:

• Asked Saturday whether the legislation would allow local sheriffs to arm school personnel with AR-15 assault rifles, Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said that would be up to individual sheriffs. Really?

• Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, opposed a ban on the sale of assault rifles by invoking Adolf Hitler, Fidel Castro and North Korea. So AR-15 assault rifles will be a deterrent to a nuclear attack?

• Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, claimed banning the sale of assault rifles would be similar to banning fertilizer because it was used in the Oklahoma City bombing or banning pressure cookers because they were used in the Boston Marathon bombing. Never mind that fertilizer and pressure cookers have legitimate, legal uses while the purpose of assault rifles is to kill people.

The Senate voted Saturday 20-17 to defeat a proposed ban on the sale of assault rifles, then immediately held a moment of silence to honor the Douglas High students and personnel who were killed by a shooter firing an AR-15 assault rifle. That says it all.

Tampa Bay senators

FOR GUNS

Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg

(850) 487-5024 • brandes.jeff@flsenate.gov

Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa

(850) 487-5020 • lee.tom@flsenate.gov

Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby

(850) 487-5010 • simpson.wilton@flsenate.gov

FOR KIDS

Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg

(850) 487-5019 • rouson.darryl@flsenate.gov

AWOL

Dana Young, R-Tampa

(850) 487-5018 • young.dana@flsenate.gov

Young was present during Saturday's session but skipped the roll call vote and later entered a "no" vote in the record.

The rest of Florida

FOR GUNS

Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala

(850) 487-5012 • baxley.dennis@flsenate.gov

Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach

(850) 487-5004 • bean.aaron@flsenate.gov

Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers

(850) 487-5027 • benacquisto.lizbeth@flsenate.gov

Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island

(850) 487-5005 • bradley.rob@flsenate.gov

Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze

(850) 487-5001 • broxson.doug@flsenate.gov

George Gainer, R-Panama City

(850) 487-5002 • gainer.george@flsenate.gov

Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton

(850) 487-5021 • galvano.bill@flsenate.gov

Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring

(850) 487-5026 • grimsley.denise@flsenate.gov

Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange

(850) 487-5014 • hukill.dorothy@flsenate.gov

Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast

(850) 487-5007 • hutson.travis@flsenate.gov

Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach

(850) 487-5017 • mayfield.debbie@flsenate.gov

Joe Negron, R-Stuart

(850) 487-5025 • negron.joe@flsenate.gov

Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples

(850) 487-5028 • passidomo.kathleen@flsenate.gov

Keith Perry, R-Gainesville

(850) 487-5008 • perry.keith@flsenate.gov

David Simmons, R-Longwood

(850) 487-5009 • simmons.david@flsenate.gov

Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland

(850) 487-5022 • stargel.kelli@flsenate.gov

Greg Steube, R-Sarasota

(850) 487-5023 • steube.greg@flsenate.gov

FOR KIDS

Lauren Book, D-Plantation

(850) 487-5032 • book.lauren@flsenate.gov

Randolph Bracy, D-Ocoee

(850) 487-5011 • bracy.randolph@flsenate.gov

Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens

(850) 487-5035 • braynon.oscar@flsenate.gov

Daphne Campbell, D-North Miami Beach

(850) 487-5038 • campbell.daphne@flsenate.gov

Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale

(850) 487-5034 • farmer.gary@flsenate.gov

Anitere Flores, R-Miami

(850) 487-5039 • flores.anitere@flsenate.gov

Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah

(850) 487-5036 • garcia.rene@flsenate.gov

Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville

(850) 487-5006 • gibson.audrey@flsenate.gov

Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee

(850) 487-5003 • montford.bill@flsenate.gov

Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach

(850) 487-5030 • powell.bobby@flsenate.gov

Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach

(850) 487-5029 • rader.kevin@flsenate.gov

Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami

(850) 487-5037 • rodriguez.jose@flsenate.gov

Linda Stewart, D-Orlando

(850) 487-5013 • stewart.linda@flsenate.gov

Annette Taddeo, D-Miami

(850) 487-5040 • taddeo.annette@flsenate.gov

Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale

(850) 487-5033 • thurston.perry@flsenate.gov

Victor Torres, D-Orlando

(850) 487-5015 • torres.victor@flsenate.gov