Parkland, Florida— Hundreds of gun control advocates and supporters, and a handful of elected officials, descended upon Pine Trail Park to attend the March for Your Lives rally to bring awareness to the recent string of mass shootings that took place in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York.
The rally was highlighted by children who took to the stage to express their concerns and opposition to “assault weapons” or “weapons of war” being sold across the country.
Just two days prior to the rally, the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed a measure along political party lines to raise the age to buy a rifle and ban high-capacity magazines.
Rep. Ted Deutch, who was in attendance at the rally with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, told The Floridian that Florida’s “red flag law” was written by the Republican legislature and signed into law by then-Republican Governor Rick Scott.
Rep. Deutch also added that both political parties in the U.S. Senate needed to put their differences aside and come to a compromise when it came to passing meaningful gun control legislation.
“I can tell you in Florida, you can't buy an assault rifle when your 21 either because the Republican legislature with a Republican governor, now a Republican senator, but then our Republican governor signed into law, a piece of legislation raising the age to 21,” said Rep. Deutch. “It takes compromise and they're going to be, if the Senate can come together, there are going to be some things that that some Democrats don't think should be the most important and some things that Republicans may not think are the most important, but that's —so that's what a compromise looks like. That's what happened in Florida, and that's what we ought to be doing.”
Echoing Deutch was Jared Moskowitz, the former state legislator that represented the district in which the Parkland school shooting occurred.
Moskowitz believed that the bill Deutch and other Democrats voted in favor of was “a balanced bill.”
“There's not one thing that we have to do. It's a multitude of things. Here in Florida, we raised the age of 21 after Parkland. We instituted three-day waiting periods, we banned bump stops. And we used to take the red flag laws that have been used 1000 times in the state of Florida,” said Moskowitz, “I think what the House did was very balanced, but I think, unfortunately, what the Senate is going to do, if anything, is strip it out and not really solve the issue.”
Moskowitz compared buying an AR-15 style rifle to renting a rental car. Most, if not all car rental agencies like Hertz and Dollar, required that the renter of one of their vehicles be 25 years of age.
“You have to be 25 to rent a car,” added Moskowitz. “So if you're 24 and you can't go into Hertz and you can't go into Enterprise, and you can't go to Avis, because the insurance companies have said ‘You're too much of a liability,’ why are we letting 18-year-olds come out with two AR-15’s and 300 rounds of ammunition?”
Democrats appear to be pivoting away from an all-out ban on firearms and compromising on raising the age to buy a rifle, like the AR-15, a notion that many Americans, both Republicans and Democrats feel is a sensible answer to mass shootings because of the ages of the past shooters.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is running for governor in the Democratic gubernatorial primary against Rep. Charlie Crist, told The Floridian that it made sense to raise the age for someone to buy a rifle.
“Somebody who's under 21 can't buy alcohol, can't rent a car. All these things, the parameters that we put in on things that are dangerous,” said Commissioner Fried. “An eight-year-old doesn't know how to handle their alcohol. An 18-year-old isn't going to be able to be trusted with a rental car, “why should an 18-year-old be able to walk in and buy an AR?”
Fried pointed out that the recent rash of shootings, including the 2018 Parkland school shooting, were committed by individuals “under the age of 21.”
Other legislators in attendance were State Senators Lauren Book, Tina Polsky, and Jason Pizzo.
In Florida, it appears as if the effort the Florida Democrats have been make to pressure the Republican-led state legislature to convene a special session to address gun control, has fallen short.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis does not support a special session, and believes that the call for gun control legislative session is just an attempt by “Leftists” to go after the 2nd Amendment.
"With all due respect to these Leftists, they just want to come after your Second Amendment rights. Let's just be honest, that's what they want to do. they don't want you, they view you as a law-abiding citizen as the target of what they're trying to do,” said Gov. DeSantis.