Compilation of reactions by Florida politicians to Broward school shooting - Florida Politics

Compilation of reactions by Florida politicians to Broward school shooting

Suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz

A mass shooting took place Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student, shot and killed an estimated 17 people.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed 17 people were killed, including both students and adults; two of the victims were killed outside the school, one in the street, 12 inside the school and two died from their wounds at the hospital.

National and Florida lawmakers, many in shock and anger, are speaking out on the tragedy:

President Donald Trump:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson:

“I said a little prayer, for all of them, then the next thought that popped into my head was, do we have to go through this again? Look how many of these mass shootings have occurred and we say enough is enough and then nothing is done. Here in the Senate, we cannot even get Senator [Dianne] Feinstein’s bill that would prohibit people on the terrorist watch list from buying a gun.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio:

“A mass shooting at one of Florida’s schools is a day you pray will never come. Jeanette and I are devastated and saddened by today’s inexplicable tragedy at Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. We join millions of Americans in praying for the victims, their families and all the students and teachers impacted by today’s events. We are grateful to the emergency responders, law enforcement officials, nurses and doctors who assisted the victims of today’s tragedy. Over the next few hours and days, we will learn more about why and how this killer carried out this carnage.

“My office and I remain ready to assist state and local officials and anyone impacted by this horrible tragedy.”

Gov. Rick Scott:

Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum:

“I am truly heartbroken for the families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School today. These lives — full of promise and potential — have ended far too soon, and we deeply mourn with their families, friends, and community. Seventeen people went to a place of learning this morning with every intention of returning home tonight, and instead, their loved ones are left with a loss so cruel it defies description. While I am prayerful for them, I am not satisfied with that singular act. I am not satisfied with the status quo of politicians sending thoughts and prayers to victims of gun violence, while they cash campaign checks from the gun lobby. I am not satisfied with politicians who decry mental health’s role in these mass shootings and do nothing to address the fact that they would happen less frequently with fewer weapons on our streets. I am not satisfied with those who lack the courage to follow their condemnation of these acts with equally strong actions to stop their occurrence. I am heartbroken over this needless bloodshed in our state and our country and as Governor, I will work with anyone, and do everything possible, to stop them.”

Gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham:

“As a mother, I am crushed. And as a Floridian, I am incensed. It is immoral that this senseless violence continues to plague our schools and communities, and rob our children of their lives, their future and their innocence. We must act to prevent these tragedies. We must turn our anguish into the will to protect our children, teachers and families.”

Gubernatorial candidate Chris King:

“On days like this, prayers are not enough. Thoughts are not enough. Our broken hearts are not enough. For too many families in Florida tonight, no time will go by to heal this wound. And there will be no ‘moment’ when it is right to address this crisis if we continue to allow these shootings day after day, week after week, month after month.

“Since 2010, there have been 13 school shootings in the state of Florida. Today marks the fourteenth.

“We are told by politicians that debates over gun laws are debates over freedom. I think there is no freedom when a mother cannot drop off her son at school without fearing it could be the last time she sees him.

“We are told that any loss of American life is unacceptable. If any loss really is too much, then letting mass shootings occur without any action is an unforgivable dereliction of a government’s sacred duty to protect its citizens.

“We have failed, completely, to enact meaningful legislation to prevent mass shootings in this decade. This is an epidemic the United States suffers in a way no other developed country on earth does.

“Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. I am reminded tonight of these words from President Kennedy: ‘With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.’

“There are commonsense steps we can take that would keep weapons out of dangerous hands. It’s time to act.”

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo:

U.S. Rep. Val Demings:

“My heart goes out to the families of the children and school staff who lost their lives. I am heartbroken about this tragedy. And I am outraged that Congress has done nothing to keep children and families safe. Members of Congress lack the courage to act, and think more about their next election than the right of our children to go to school in safety.

“We live in a country where 150,000 children have experienced a school shooting. We are inflicting the horrors of war on our own children.

“The president will talk about mental illness as a reason for this attack. But while sufferers of mental illness must get the treatment they need, it’s a distraction from the real issue: guns. The president and the GOP must keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them in the first place.

“As a former law enforcement officer, I had a duty to enforce laws to protect the innocent. As Members of Congress, we have a duty to create laws to protect the innocent. With each day of inaction, our government grows more complicit in the violent deaths of children.”

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis:

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch:

“Today was a horrible day for Parkland, South Florida, and our nation. We are grateful for our first responders, local, state and federal law enforcement, and especially the teachers and staff who heroically fought to protect their students. We mourn the lives taken, and we will be here as a community for the families and for one another.”

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart:

U.S Rep. Al Lawson:

“My heart breaks for the teachers and students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following today’s mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. Our children go to school to learn, but are now faced with this reoccurring epidemic. It is unfortunate we are at this place again, and these senseless tragedies are happening far too often. There have been multiple school shootings in just the last two months and it is imperative that we do more to keep our children safe.

“Gun violence should not be tolerated and our government has to do its part by providing resources and proper security measures to ensure the safety of our children.  My thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims’ families and the entire Broward County community.”

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto:

“It never gets easier to bear the news of a school shooting in America. It devastates me, along with our community, that children faced such horror in their schools today. This senseless shooting claimed the innocent lives of 17 and injured many.

“We’re especially grateful for all of the brave law enforcement officers who risked their lives today, and every day, for our safety.

“I spoke with the FBI today and offered my support on providing federal resources as necessary. During my time in the Florida legislation, I supported funds for more school safety officers in all Florida schools, increasing the response time for scenarios like these. And in Congress, I will continue to fight for sensible gun safety legislation.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

“As a Broward County resident for nearly 30 years and an elected official for most of that time, my heart breaks for the victims, their families, friends, and loved ones.

As a parent of a Broward County high school student, and as someone with friends whose children attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it is gut-wrenching that another senseless school shooting has occurred, this time in our community.

“In the United States of America, it is simply unacceptable that we allow children to run for their lives with their backpacks on. Unacceptable that we allow parents to fear for the worst while they wait to hear back from their kids, and unacceptable that we allow survivors of school shootings to live with a trauma that can never be explained away.

I stand with my community and our families and ask all Americans to keep the parents, siblings, spouses and loved ones in their prayers this evening. No American anywhere should have to feel the pain that Broward County feels today, and too many communities have felt across our country countless times before. We must do something about this senseless epidemic of gun violence and we must do it now.”

Florida Senate President-Designate Bill Galvano:

“The events yesterday are nothing short of devastating and tragic.  My heart breaks for the students, families, administrators, first responders and law enforcement officers and all who have been impacted by this shooting.

“As we learn more in the coming days and weeks about the perpetrator responsible for these senseless killings, I am asking my colleagues in the Florida Senate and House to join me in findings ways to immediately direct funds to our schools statewide, so they can evaluate and implement a school hardening plan that will strengthen the presence of armed resource officers and harden the entry points for our schools.

“I am asking all of my legislative colleagues to support an appropriation of $100 million for mental health screening, counseling and training, as well as the hardening of our or schools in the K-12 budget, which Senator Passidomo has already included in the Senate education budget.  It is imperative that a portion of this allocation goes toward ensuring that we have the necessary number of armed resource officers at our schools across Florida.  While currently, we have armed resource officers at a number of our schools coupled with other law enforcement personnel, we must identify where the gaps exist and immediately work to fill them.

“Further, we need to make sure that all schools have, and are utilizing, the NSA security audit that was put into place after the Sandy Hook tragedy and look into how we can expedite the implementation of these audits and assist these schools where needed.

“And finally, we must have the conversation about how this individual, with noted and apparent mental health issues, was able to obtain a firearm such as this and discuss measures to prevent this from happening again.  The safety of our children in Florida schools should be the No. 1 priority for all of us in public service.  Enough is enough.

“I look forward to discussing this proposed immediate plan of action with my colleagues as we continue to keep all of those impacted by this tragedy in our thoughts and prayers.”

Florida Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson:

“On a day meant to celebrate love, 17 promising futures came to an end in Parkland yesterday.  As I watched the events unfold and the stories told of terror and heroism today, I want to echo the sentiment of condolences followed by the need for immediate action.”

“As elected leaders, we have no greater responsibility than protecting our children. Our schools should be shrines to learning and possibility where our students feel safe and secure.  We are working today to immediately identify and direct funding to hardening our schools and provide for armed resource officers on every campus for safety and prevention. We must  stand together and support the allocation of $100 million for mental health screening, counseling and training.”

“In the days and weeks to come, the Florida Senate will work to ensure our students and teachers are safe. Increased security for both safety and prevention, hardening our schools, mental health resources, active shooter training and improving how we communicate with our students – everything must be a part of the discussion as we work to secure Florida’s schools.”

State Sen. Lauren Book:

“We hear about school shootings all the time. Sadly, they have become a part of our national news cycle. As a mom and a former classroom teacher, I am left more and more horrified and agonized with each tragedy. And yet, despite the seemingly endless reports, nothing prepares you for the reality of a school shooting unfolding in your own community. I am devastated. I remain in communication with Broward officials and will do all I can to support them during this time. Unending thanks to our First Responders for their courage in the face of the unthinkable – you are our heroes. Fellow parents, let’s all hug our babies a little closer tonight.”

State Sen. Daphne Campbell:

“The tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School deeply troubles me. The time for a “having a conversation” is now. We must take substantive action to ensure that acts of violence like this never happen again. I call on Governor Scott and my colleagues in the House and Senate to support legislation banning the sale of assault weapons (SB 196/H219) in our state.

“Mass shooting like Aurora, Sandy Hook, Pulse, Las Vegas and Sutherland TX all have one thing in common and that an assault weapon was used to kill a large number of innocent citizens in a short period of time.  It baffles me that a teenager in our state can walk into a gun store and purchase a machine of death without a mental evaluation, or a waiting period, before walking out of the store with a gun.

“How many Floridians must die before we take action? Now must be different, now is the time that we must buck the gun lobby and enact common-sense solutions that will protect our children, our cities, and our state. No Floridian should be able to possess a weapon that was developed for use on a battlefield.

“Let’s end these senseless killing in our state, let’s make Florida a safer place for our children and neighbors. We have the power to make a difference. Let’s start now.”

State Sen. Gary Farmer:

“I am heartbroken by the devastating act of evil that occurred yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Every one of these too often occurring incidents is a tragedy, but as a former resident of Parkland and the Chairman of the Broward Delegation, this particular act of violence has left a brutal and lasting scar on my heart. I want to express my condolences and support to both State Senator Kevin Rader and State Rep. Jared Moskowitz who represent the districts where the school is located.

“I have been personally affected by the tragedy that unfolded yesterday. My family previously lived just 7 miles from the school. My daughter had friends in the school that day, and her life and the lives of my entire family have been forever changed. While my fight for proper gun safety measures began long before today, this incident has only hardened my resolve to protect our children from the horrors of gun violence.

“In the wake of this life-shattering event, our initial reaction must be to provide aid and comfort to the victims and their families. Last afternoon the lives of every student in that school and our entire community were shattered, and we need to be ready and available to assist them in any way possible. We cannot, however, lose sight of the major gaps in current statutes which allowed this tragic event and those before it to occur. The Florida State Senate and House of Representatives must act immediately to close these holes and provide our students and teachers with the protections that they so desperately need.

“Legislators and pundits who have been misguided or corrupted by the powerful pro-gun lobby will say that it is too soon to act. To that, I say that it is too late. It is too late to prevent the horrors that unfolded yesterday, and it is too late to prevent the evil acts that have occurred elsewhere. However, it is never too late to take action and prevent this evil act from ever happening again.

“Today a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas accurately summed up the current situation as he reminded politicians that “Ideas without action remain ideas, and children die as a result.” For years I and many of my colleagues have proposed legislation that would take the necessary steps to address our State’s lack of gun safety measures. These proposals have been ignored amongst the majority leadership in both Chambers, and Floridians have paid the price with their blood and tears. The time to act is now, and those who refuse to do so whether knowingly or not are providing material support to the continuation of violence in our State.

“In the State Senate, a bill has been filed to ban the same type of assault weapon that was used to carry out the mass murder that occurred in Parkland. Despite the clear need for such legislation displayed both this week and by numerous incidents before, such as the Pulse shooting, this bill by Sen. Stewart (SB 196) has remained unheard in any committee.

“The weapon used in yesterday’s shooting has been described as an “AR-15 style rifle.” This style of weapon has become the weapon of choice for those seeking to commit mass murder in our schools, businesses, and other community gathering places. These weapons have the ability to carry more rounds than could ever be required for recreation or self-defense. They are loaded using detachable magazines, which allow the user to quickly reload and continue to unleash a stream of lethal ammunition upon their victims. Let there be no doubt about it, AR-15 style rifles and other assault weapons are designed to be instruments of mass slaughter, and have no place in the hands of any civilian. With the devastating result of the widespread civilian access to weapons of war staring us directly in the face, I find it unconscionable that any legislator could oppose an effort to take them off the streets. I once again urge the majority leadership in the State Senate to immediately take up SB 196, to address this threat to our children and communities.

“In the hours following yesterday’s shooting, news quickly surfaced that there were clear warnings about the intentions of the evil perpetrator of this act. Despite online threats made by the shooter which specifically stated his intentions to commit violent acts (both in his former school and against law enforcement) state, local, and federal authorities did not possess the tools that they needed to prevent the shooter’s access to deadly weapons. Currently our State statutes prohibit the registration of firearms in Florida. This means that when threats are issued, our law enforcement is unable to determine if a suspect has access to weapons that would allow them to carry out their threat. My bill, SB 1476, would eliminate the Florida statute that currently bars the creation of a statewide firearm registry.

“The gaps in our current gun safety laws are so major and so numerous that the prospect of taking action may seem daunting. My fellow state legislators need to be aware that the vehicles to provide for gun safety in Florida exist in current bills that have not yet been given the chance to be heard. We can take action to prevent future violence before the legislative session ends in March, and our legislators must be held accountable if they fail to do so.

“It is too late to stop the horrors of yesterday, but it is not too late to prevent tragedy from occurring tomorrow. What we saw yesterday is the direct result of a failure by the Legislature to act. The students of Parkland suffered from that failure, and in the wake of this tragedy, they are calling upon us to act. Broward County School Superintendent Runcie has told us that in the hours following this tragedy students have reached out to him telling him that now is the time for us to have a “reasonable conversation about gun safety legislation.” We owe it to the victims of this horrifying event to take immediate action to address comprehensive gun safety legislation.

“One of the most common descriptions of this event that I have heard and read on social media is that this was a “senseless tragedy.”  That is wrong.  This wasn’t senseless.  It was the logical, even likely result of our failure to regulate the sale of firearms.  It was the result of a steady stream of obstruction by the gun industry.  And it was the result of law enforcement not being provided with the tools needed to stop events like.  What is senseless is that mass killing after mass killing occurs in this country, but we only express remorse and call for thoughts & prayers but fail to take action to stop these events from happening.  Enough!!

“As a State Senator, and more importantly as a father, I will not rest until we can ensure the safety of our children and communities. I will fight tooth and nail against every dangerous and nonsensical pro-gun piece of legislation in the State Senate. I will not allow our State Legislature to act as a contributing factor to the horrifying violence that we saw this week, and I demand that my fellow legislators do the same.”

For those affected by this tragedy, the following resources have been made available:

Grief counselors are available for all of our students, families and staff.

To speak to a BCPS Family Counselor from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Thursday, February 15 and Friday, February 16, call 754-321-HELP or 754-321-4357.  You can also email wesupport@browardschools.com.

In addition, for Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, grief counselors are on site at the following locations:

Pine Trails Park Recreation Center and Amphitheater

Coral Springs Gymnasium

Coral Springs Center For The Arts

For Marjory Stoneman Douglas staff members, grief counselors are available at Parkland Library.

For those seeking to provide help to those affected by this tragedy, a GoFundMe account has been established to help provide for their needs: https://GoFundMe.com/stonemandouglasfund or http://BrowardEducationFoundation.org.

Minority Leader Janet Cruz (with Broward County House members):

“Today’s senseless massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is horrific. We want to extend our deepest condolences to the friends and family of the victims who were viciously attacked this afternoon. Our hearts are with you as we mourn lives lost far too soon. Thank you to our law enforcement officers, first responders, teacher, and students who put their lives on the line on behalf of their fellow Floridians today.

“There are no words to accurately describe what these families are going through. Tonight, while attempting to process what happened today, one feeling will stay with them; Florida’s children are unsafe in their own schools.

“As we mourn together, we must pledge to do everything we can to prevent other families from experiencing the grief and pain that have been inflicted today. As more information is uncovered on the causes behind today’s tragedy, one thing will remain clear: we must increase our efforts to improve safety for students throughout Florida. This cannot be the reality of our state in 2018.”

State Rep. Roy Hardemon:

“Yesterday’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland was a terrible tragedy. These senseless shootings of our youth, in our schools, on our streets, in our neighborhoods, must stop. Having recently lost a grandson to gun violence, I understand what the parents and family members of the victims are going through. We need better legislation to protect our children and to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.”

State Rep. Jared Moskowitz (who represents Parkland, where the school is located):

State Rep. David Silvers:

“This afternoon’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland is heartbreaking. This is a tragic occurrence for the state and the families that have been affected. We’re grateful for the quick response of school staff and first responders. This senseless act deeply shakes us, but I know we will stand together, offering our hearts and hands to those who are suffering.”

Anna Eskamani, candidate for House District 47:

“My heart aches. The students impacted today will live with trauma for the rest of their lives. Their families will forever be in pain, and first responders will only face more PTSD as they do their part to manage this latest tragedy.

“Orlando is all too familiar with gun violence, and we don’t just need comprehensive gun safety legislation, we demand it.

“What is our Republican-controlled legislature doing instead? Attempting to expand access to guns while also attacking our public schools and teachers. Teachers, the very people who served as heroes in today’s tragedy.

“The irony is painful. I promise you, that when you send me to Tallahassee I will fight for Floridians on every level and on every issue, with gun violence being one of the problems we work to solve. Stay strong Broward, we are with you.”

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia:

“Our hearts are broken yet again by the senseless and tragic shooting in our nation’s public schools, this time in Parkland, Florida. We are monitoring closely the still developing and tense situation, but we have confidence in the ability of the first responders and the school staff and administrators to help students and families at this time. While our thoughts and prayers are with Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, educators and their families, we know that we, as a country, need to do more to end these senseless shootings.

“As educators, our foremost priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of all of our students. Our focus now is on supporting the educators, students and their families in the Broward County community today and in the future. We all have a responsibility to create safe schools and communities. As a state and a country, we can and must do more to ensure that everyone who walks through our school doors — educator, student, parent or community member — is safe and free from violence.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo:

“It is painful to again have to say the words mass shooting and Florida in the same sentence. There are no words to describe the immense heartache the students, parents, staff, emergency responders and community must be feeling right now. Our hearts are breaking. Our prayers and thoughts are with Parkland tonight.”

Florida Education Association President Joanne McCall:

“At this moment we know little about today’s shooting in Broward’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. This is a devastating, heartbreaking and all too frequent occurrence. Our hearts go out to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School families, the school staff and the Parkland community.”

“Our union family stands ready to help ensure the Marjory Stoneman Douglas families, students and staff have the support they need as they confront the inevitable grief and fear in the aftermath of this horrendous loss of innocent lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families tonight.”

Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence:

“This shooting is further proof that semiautomatic weapons do not belong in the hands of civilians. They are weapons of mass destruction. The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence and the League of Women Voters of Florida call upon our Legislature currently in Session to hear and pass the ban on assault weapons — HB 219 and SB 196.
“Our hearts break for the young lives that were ripped away in a senseless and all-too-common act of brutality. The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is committed to fighting for smart, responsible gun legislation. The federal government will not change these laws; the state of Florida can and should protect its citizens, and most importantly its children.”
Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist, editor and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing, reporting and management experience, Phil produced content for both print and online, in addition to founding several specialty websites, including HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range included covering news, local government and entertainment reviews for Patch.com, technical articles, and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine as well as advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as editor and production manager for Extensive Enterprises Media since 2013 and lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul. He can be reached at phil.ammann@gmail.com.

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