NRA financial backing undermines GOP response to Florida shooting

In the immortal words of Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” After yet another tragic mass shooting that left 17 dead at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the typical responses are pouring in from Republican lawmakers. They tweet some version of the cliché “thoughts and prayers” response before adamantly defending guns.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio both appeared broken up by the event on social media, apparently forgetting their position in yet another massacre in the state they are supposed to be helping. As they prepare to make the rounds on cable television and deliver inauthentic speeches to their constituents, it is important to keep in mind their storied allegiance with the National Rifle Association over the years.

Both men “earned an A+ rating” from the NRA before their last election, which is the highest rating a politician can receive from the most-prominent gun lobby. Last year, Rubio received over three million dollars from the lobby that champions the belief that “gun laws are ineffective.” Meanwhile, Scott has signed more pro-gun bills than any other Florida governor has in history, doing so before his first year in office had even finished.

The Florida Republicans’ cozy relationship with the NRA is very well-documented and clearly the reason why in the midst of yet another bloodbath in their state, they refuse to seriously discuss the possibility of gun control. Both men have expressed that now is not the time to have an open dialogue about restricting firearms. If it were left up to them, the time of course would be never. Apparently, these public servants would rather allow more citizens, more children and more lives to be lost in schools, concerts and night clubs before turning their backs on the NRA.

The gunman, whose name I refuse to acknowledge, had a long history of hateful behavior, both online and in real life.  He often espoused slurs against blacks and Muslims on the internet, had ties to white supremacist groups and said on at least one occasion that his dream was to eventually become a school shooter. The 19-year-old also wrote about his goals to “shoot people with his AR-15” and “kill law enforcement one day.” All of these facts were uncovered within the 24 hours after the horrific shooting that left 17 people dead.  A simple background check could have prevented the tragedy before the gun was even purchased.

When a mentally disturbed teenager can legally buy a semiautomatic rifle without raising any red flags, there is a clear problem. Instead, Republicans like President Donald Trump would rather blame the victims on Twitter than suggest any legislation to prevent this from happening as often as it continues to. Floridians and all U.S. citizens must demand change from Rubio, Scott, Trump and every other Republican who is in the NRA’s back pocket.

Conservatives love to claim that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. In reality, all that does is help the NRA sell more guns and therefore help those politicians become even richer. Their “thoughts and prayers” are meaningless words meant to feign sympathy for a few days until the story blows over. A month from now, Rubio and Scott will repeat the same empty phrases while pointing the blame at everyone but the people who allow unstable individuals with lethal intentions to purchase these killing machines. Their refusal to point blame at their benefactors shows a clear disregard for their constituents’ lives and safety.  They would rather collect checks than keep firearms out of the hands of the unhinged.

After the shooting, Rubio tweeted that this is a “terrible day that you pray never comes.”  Rubio, with one tweet just proved what millions of citizens have been saying for years: your prayers are not enough. Do something now, before even more blood is on your hands.

February 26, 2018

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Evan Lewis

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