Senate resolution condemning mass violence off to rocky start

mass shoootings florida senate resolution
“This is not a soapbox. It’s not the time to use national, frivolous arguments.”

Senate Republican leaders say the first step toward preventing mass violence is condemning white nationalism and white supremacy as “hateful, dangerous and morally corrupt,” according to a draft resolution made public on Friday.

But Senate Democrats want to see the chamber do more.

Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson wants the Senate to note that mass violence is also caused by individuals that use semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines to carry out their attacks.

The Senate resolution may be off to a rough start, after Gibson sidestepped Republican leaders by sending the media a copy of her edited version of the proposal before it was finalized and distributed to reporters.

Sen. Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican who is in line to take over as Senate president following next year’s elections, told The News Service of Florida in a telephone interview on Friday that he does not want to “politicize this document.”

“The notion that we would single out one type of weapon because it’s politically expedient I think is not the right thing to do,” Simpson said. “This is not a soapbox. It’s not the time to use national, frivolous arguments.”

Simpson initially emailed a draft of the resolution to Gibson on Thursday, asking for her feedback and saying he hoped she would join in “supporting this important statement.”

Simpson told the News Service the resolution is a “first step” in the Senate’s exploration of mass violence and white nationalism following mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio earlier this month.

After the shootings, Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, tasked Sen. Tom Lee, a former Senate president, to lead efforts to determine if any further action is needed after laws were enacted in the wake of the Feb. 14, 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Simpson, Senate Budget Chairman Rob Bradley of Fleming Island and Senate Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican, crafted a resolution branding the recent mass shootings as “acts of domestic terror.”

“The murderous violence was perpetrated by individuals who embraced a philosophy of white nationalism and white supremacy” and “is contradictory to the values, constitutional protections, and moral fiber of the United States of America and the State of Florida,” the resolution reads.

But in the email to Simpson the Senate Minority Office shared with reporters, Gibson wrote that Democrats wanted the resolution to say that the individuals who carried out the attacks “used as the preferred weaponry semi-automatic rifles and high capacity magazines.”

Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat, also wanted the resolution to include that “according to the FBI, there were 7,175 hate crime incidents in 2017, a 17 percent increase from 2016, and the third year in a row with an increase.”

And Democrats wanted to add a Senate pledge to “protect the safety of the people of Florida,” she wrote.

But Simpson rejected linking semi-automatic guns and high-capacity magazines to the attacks condemned in the resolution.

“She is welcome to propose any changes she would like and she’s welcome to make any resolution attempt that she would like. We’ll have to wait and see the will of the body on those things,” he added.


Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Ana Ceballos

Ana covers politics and policy Before joining the News Service of Florida she wrote for the Naples Daily News and was the legislative relief reporter for The Associated Press and covered policy issues impacting immigration, the environment, criminal justice and social welfare in Florida. She holds a B.A. in journalism from San Diego State University. After graduating in 2014, she worked as a criminal justice reporter for the Monterey Herald and the Monterey County Weekly. She has also freelanced for The Washington Post at the U.S.-Mexico border covering crime in the border city of Tijuana, where she grew up. Ana is fluent in Spanish and has intermediate proficiency in Portuguese.

One comment

  • Sonja Fitch

    August 18, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    It is the guns stupid! It is the drugs stupid! It is the guns stupid! Words don’t mean a thing without action to stop the guns unless well regulated stupid!

Comments are closed.


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