No one is surprised that guns are the big political issue in Florida this year.
With a deadly school shooting this week in Santa Fe, Texas, and the Parkland tragedy in February, guns and school safety are assured to be at the forefront in both Florida and nationwide for 2018.
The best evidence of this rests in Tampa’s Senate District 18, where the rhetoric over guns has already begun to heat up between incumbent GOP Sen. Dana Young and outgoing House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz.
On Sunday, Young took to Twitter to note that Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister ordered additional policing in county schools throughout the coming week, a result of the Friday shooting in Santa Fe.
Funding for the increased law enforcement presence came from the $400 million “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act,” which passed quickly after Parkland and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in March.
“Sheriff @ChadChronister and @HillsboroughSch have finalized plans for implementing our enhanced school security program here in Hillsborough County,” Young tweeted. “Our number one goal is keeping our children safe!”
Chronister’s plan is being funded by the school safety bill lawmaker passed at the end of Session. Young voted for the bill despite pressure from the NRA not to. Cruz voted against the package including, the common-sense gun law reforms.
The Act, which the House approved 67-50, was a particularly difficult vote for Democrats (including Cruz), who took a caucus position against it, mostly justified by their opposition to armed personnel in schools.
Reservations about arming teachers could be a valid point to some, but just as many (if not more) believe it is a good idea. And that could prove problematic later.
Since guns are the guaranteed issue of the day — and we like and respect both candidates in SD 18 — Cruz’s vote against a school safety package could, unfortunately, come back to haunt her and hurt Florida Democrats this November.