Everytown for Gun Safety and the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action, along with a coalition of gun violence survivors, educators, students, law enforcement, and the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus met on the steps of the Capitol March 9 for an anti-gun rally wanting their voices to be heard.
The message of their speak out was, “backpacks and bullets do not mix”.
Prior to the rally, the coalition dropped off 12,000 postcards to legislators signed by Floridians that read “backpacks and bullets don’t mix.”
Everytown for Gun Safety is the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country with 2.5 million supporters and over 40,000 donors comprised of mothers, mayors, survivors and Americans fighting for public safety.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was founded the day after the Sandy Hook shooting, and now has chapters in all 50 states.
The gun lobby is pushing six bills through legislature that would allow concealed weapons on college campuses, let concealed weapons licensees carry concealed weapons on school property, including k-12 schools, and change Florida law to reduce the penalties for bringing firearms in school safety zones.
“We want to see an end to these six bills being passed through our legislature,” Chryl Anderson, Florida Chapter Leader for Moms Demand Action for gun sense in America, said. “Our kids’ teachers enter the esteemed profession of education to teach, not become sharpshooters. Allowing guns in our schools and forcing colleges to allow guns on their campuses endangers faculty, students and law enforcement.”
Pat Craig has been an active member of MDA since its fruition, and is the lead for Florida’s Survivor Outreach Program. Her nephew was killed in 2007 at Virginia Tech, and had a niece present at Florida State back in the December shooting incident.
“I want the legislators to know and to hear that they should listen to the voices of the people who are affected by this: our police chiefs, our teacher’s unions, our students, our college professors, survivors,” Craig said. “Listen to their voices and have common sense to make sure we protect our students and have good stewards over the students that we send them.”
As each person spoke before the crowd, they boldly represented their counterparts who want no parts of this toxic mixture of guns and school life.
Marty Monroe, a member of MDA and a recovering Civics teacher, doesn’t believe students with guns are prepared for crisis. She believes the legislature is confusing a concealed weapons permit with active shooting training.
“Why do they think a concealed weapons permit equals an active gun shooter training? Its not the same,” Monroe said. “Active shooting takes a great deal of training and savvy, and a concealed weapon permit frankly doesn’t rise to that standard.”
Another MDA member, Richard Martinez’s son was killed in the tragedy near the campus of UC Santa Barbara Last May. He feels that adding guns are an outdated approach, and worried more parents will receive a phone call like he did.
‘The idea that more guns on campus is the answer to the gun violence problem in this country is an 1800s solution to a 21st century problem,” Martinez said.
Still unaccepting of how his son died, he is determined to speak up for those who no longer can and is urging for better solutions.
“In the 50s and 60s this country had many people die from motor vehicles accidents. We didn’t ban cars, what we did was put seatbelts in cars, shoulder harnesses, airbags, improved crash worthiness of vehicles, took drunk drivers off the road, and took precautions to texting and driving. We need to treat gun violence the same way,” Martinez said.
Natalia Perez Santos, a University of Florida sophomore from Miami, FL, feels that the legislature is totally disregarding her safety as student for a couple of brownie points from the gun lobby. As a daughter of a marine, she spent her entire life around guns and has seen the devastation they can cause.
“The gun lobby is insisting that this will protect female students particularly from sexual assault, do not listen to them,” said Santos. “As a woman, the risk of sexual assault is a very real fear. The idea of an attacker being legally allowed to carry a hidden, loaded gun on campus does not make me feel any safer. Keep guns away from dangerous people.”
Jennifer Proffitt Ph.D. is an associate professor of Communications at FSU and President of the FSU chapter of United Faculty of Florida. She feels these bills are violating her duties of ensuring a safe and fulfilling workplace and top quality academic institution for the faculty.
“Let me make it perfectly clear, guns on campus will not make faculty feel safe,” Proffitt said. “This legislation isn’t good for anyone except those who make their money selling guns.”
Terence Calloway, Florida A&M University Chief of Police, feels that the only people on campus who should be armed are trained law enforcement officials.
“As the Chief of Police of a university, I understand too well the dangers that are already prevalent on our college campuses,” Calloway said. “Those of us charged with keeping campus communities safe know that allowing concealed handguns on campus won’t make students safer, but it will make our jobs harder.”
To keep track of the bills discussed, HB 4005, SB 176, HB 19, SB180, HB 251, SB 754, visit www.myfloridahouse.gov.