New Episode – 2/21/18

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Since 1999, the year of the Columbine shooting, one hundred and fifty thousand students in at least one hundred and seventy schools have experienced a shooting on campus. The five deadliest mass shootings in American history have all happened in the past ten years. Of those five, four have happened in the last five years, all of which were perpetrated with a semi-automatic rifle. Thoughts and prayers are simply not doing the trick.

In the aftermath of last weeks tragedy blame has been placed anywhere and everywhere it possibly can be. Rightfully so. One area Republicans and thier leadership have seized on has been mental health. To their credit, similar to gun control, mental health has been overlooked for far too long by politicians of all stripes and urgently needs to be addressed. But thats not why they point to it. Mental health has become a welcome scapegoat by those opposed to any form of gun control. In reality, according to Michael Stone, a psychiatrist at Columbia University, approximately twenty two percent of those who commit mass shootings have been mentally ill. Yet in the aftermath of these all too familiar tragedies mental illness is brought to the forefront. Republicans have used mental illness as a cath-all cover to avoid confronting the fact that there is absolutley no need for civilians to acquire machines of war.

The NRA has produced something of a stranglehold on the Republican Party. Current and hopeful politicians know if they are not able to secure a endorsement from the NRA they will be unable to reach a large portion of their base. This is all due to the NRA’s success in turning a massive block of voters into essentially one issue voters, that is a portion of the Republican base will not support anyone who even sniffs the idea of new gun control laws. By tying gun ownership into your personal rights, pushing messages similar to “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”, and pitching any action on gun control as big government looking to infringe upon your rights, the NRA has developed an outsized influence on the Republican party. The blood money that fills Republican politicians coffers, and the endorsements they crave, have led to the status quo as we know it. Immediately following a mass shooting thoughts and prayers pour in, Republican leadership admonishes Democrats for politicizing a tragedy, and promises to “look into” actions are made. Lip service and half hearted statements have become the norm. In the interest of fairness, Democrats have not done everything they could have to enact gun control reform either. Political calculations could have been discarded, immense public pressure could have been created, and lives could have been saved.

In the week since the tragedy at Marjory Stonemen Douglas High, the survivors have made an incredible effort to seize the national conversation on gun control and force lawmakers hands in enacting real change. All of this as they bury classmates, loved ones, heroes. We owe it to them to take up the fight and push for change that could prevent this type of tragedy from happening ever again. As long as Republicans hold the Executive and Legislative branches of both the federal government and our state government here in Florida, nothing will be accomplished. History has shown that lawmakers will inexplicably vacate responsibility and instead side with the forces of the status quo, Fox News, and the NRA. The only way to combat the status quo is to get involved. If you can donate, donate. If you can volunteer, volunteer. If you can vote, VOTE. The only way to combat the status quo is to get involved.

Ninety seven percent of voters support universal background checks, while just under seventy percent of voters support a nationwide ban on assault rifles. Now is the time for action. This issue isnt going away anytime soon thanks to the remarkable survivors of last weeks tragedy. We owe it to them and the memories of the victims to stand with them, the status quo simply isn’t acceptable.