Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: We Are Broken

February 18, 2018

We are broken.

Those were the words of a grieving parent Thursday, the day after his 14-year-old daughter, Jamie, was gunned down by Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in the nation’s second-deadliest school shooting.

Fred Guttenberg spoke at a vigil in the community where thousands of mourners — including Florida Gov. Rick Scott — prayed, wept and reminisced about the 17 victims shot dead by Cruz.

http://www.northescambia.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/floridaweeklly.jpg“What is unfathomable is Jamie took a bullet and is dead. I don’t know what I do next,” a torn Guttenberg, whose son Jesse survived the shooting, said. “We are broken.”

State and federal officials, including Scott and President Donald Trump, are flocking to Broward County in the aftermath of the Valentine’s Day shooting, less than two years after many of the same politicians faced the television cameras following the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando that left 49 people dead and dozens of others injured.

The horrific deaths of 14 teenagers and three school staff members — including football coach Aaron Feis, who died shielding students from the bullets hailing from Cruz’s semi-automatic rifle — immediately rekindled the emotionally raw and familiar debate over gun laws, in Florida, in Washington and throughout the nation.

Cruz, who was expelled from the high school, had such a troubled history that some of those who knew him weren’t surprised by his violent outburst.

Yet, advocates of stricter gun laws point out, Cruz was able to legally purchase, without any waiting period, the rifle he used to mow down students and teachers at the school.

Gun rights proponents, meanwhile, stress the need for better mental-health services and argue the Parkland shootings are evidence that people who have concealed-weapons licenses should be allowed to bring guns to schools.

Adding their voices to the conversation, students are demanding action from political leaders like Trump and Scott, who said “everything is on the table.”

Marjory Stoneman Douglas junior Cameron Kasky told CNN Friday morning that students felt that “our politicians had abandoned us.”

“This can be stopped,” Kasky said, adding that “thoughts and prayers are appreciated” but “there’s much more that can be done.”

Kasky praised the focus on mental health but said that isn’t enough, asking for state and national leaders to pass guns laws aimed at preventing atrocities like the one on his campus.

“The only people who don’t care are the people who are making the laws,” he said.


The day after Cruz went on the shooting spree at his former high school, the Florida Senate budget committee approved a plan to steer $100 million to public schools for mental-health screening and services and to boost funding for school safety programs.

Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who will take over as Senate president in November, pushed for the boost in funding for the plan, which had originally been allocated $40 million. The Senate also wants a $13 million increase for “safe school funding,” used primarily for school resource officers.

Galvano said he is also exploring what, if anything, lawmakers can do to prevent the sale of guns to people like Cruz, who was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and who left a years-long trail of telltale signs of mental illness.

Like Floridians throughout the state, legislators in the Capitol reeled as news continued to emerge about the mass shooting.

Several Broward County lawmakers rushed to South Florida.

State Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a graduate of the Parkland high school, called the scene “surreal.”

“I got here last night. My high school looked like a war zone. Streets that I drive all the time looked like a war zone,” Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, said in a telephone interview Thursday morning.

The neighborhood surrounding the school was peppered with mobile command centers and mass triage units on cordoned-off streets, Moskowitz said.

Moskowitz’s 4-year-old son was learning how to write his name when his teacher’s daughter was mowed down by Cruz, whose lengthy history of disturbing behavior prompted reports to the FBI identifying him as dangerous.

The FBI acknowledged Friday that it had received a call Jan. 5 from a person expressing concern about Cruz’s behavior and the potential that he could conduct a school shooting. But the FBI acknowledged that it did not properly handle the report, with the information not forwarded to a Miami field office for investigation.

Moskowitz, meanwhile, said he doesn’t know what to say to parents who ask him what state lawmakers are going to do to prevent future tragedies.

“We’ll do the same thing we’ve been doing. Which is nothing. We live in a state that if you try to do anything with gun laws and you’re a local official, we will throw you in jail,” he said. “I mean this kid was telling everybody what he was going to do. He was basically wearing a neon sign saying, ‘I am going to come and kill people.’ And yet, he bought a gun legally.”

Florida law bars people who have been involuntarily committed under the Baker Act from purchasing firearms. A 2013 law expanded that prohibition to individuals who voluntarily admit themselves for mental-health treatment.

But Scott indicated he might want an even broader prohibition.

“If someone is mentally ill, they should not have access to a gun,” said Scott, who spoke Thursday with House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron.

Galvano said he, too, is examining the issue.

“We need to explore that issue and understand both the political realities and then the physical realities of someone who has a chronic history of posting things on social media that a lay person could identify as warped. How someone like that, in the existing system, could end up with a firearm that ultimately engages in this,” he said.

But what the shape of legislation would be is unknown.

“I’m looking into that. We’re going to have that discussion. I don’t have a specific answer right now. But we can’t ignore that aspect of it,” Galvano said. “While we’re off having a debate, there are things we can do today to make our students safer.”


Meanwhile Thursday, the sponsor of a measure that would allow some concealed-weapons license applications to be approved when background checks have not been completed put her bill on hold after the Parkland atrocity.

The Senate Appropriations Committee had been scheduled to take up the proposal as part of a wide-ranging package (SB 740) involving the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“This isn’t the day to have that conversation,” bill sponsor Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said before the committee meeting. “Right now, our priority is to help the situation down there, helping law enforcement. Let’s look at the things at which we can have control, mental health, safety in our schools, that’s the more urgent things to discuss today.”

Kate Kile, the Tallahassee leader of the gun-violence prevention group Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, said she wasn’t surprised by the postponement, noting the negative attention that could have come after the shootings.

“It would be a pretty bad day to talk about some legislation we feel is very dangerous and not the direction we need to be headed,” Kile said.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican running for governor, requested the proposed licensing change, which would require concealed-weapons licenses to be issued if Putnam’s office is unable to complete criminal background checks within 90 days and if no other disqualifying information is found. Such situations could occur, for example, if the department receives incomplete criminal-history information.

Any permit issued after the 90-day period would be immediately suspended if the full background history arrives and contains disqualifying information, according to the proposal.

Putnam sent out a statement Thursday before the Senate meeting that “out of respect for their families and those suffering as a result of this tragedy, I’m working with bill sponsors to postpone consideration of the legislative proposal related to the licensing process.”

STORY OF THE WEEK: Nikolas Cruz, 19, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder after gunning down 14 students and three faculty members Wednesday at Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the nation’s second-worst school shooting in history.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Something is better than nothing. So I’ll take anything. Give me something to go back to these parents and say, ‘This time was different. We did something.’ ” — State Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, referring to a Senate plan to steer $100 million to public schools for mental health screening and services.

by Dara Kam, the News Service of Florida


10 Responses to “Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: We Are Broken”

  1. David Huie Green on February 22nd, 2018 9:52 pm

    “its absolutely crazy/stupid to allow a natural born idiot to buy (legally) a firearm. No easy answers, but solutions we must have .”

    Solutions would be nice but that doesn’t mean they exist or that they would be better than the current situation.not being allowed to legally buy something would matter if he were a law-abiding citizen. If he were a law-abiding citizen, he wouldn’t murder people.

    He isn’t an idiot. He is evil. There are many evil people and many ways to kill. He picked one of them. Nobody has enough thumbs to plug all the holes in the dike. Plugging a hundred just means failure will come through the ones you missed. You can celebrate how hard you tried in failure but what does it profit you if the end result is still failure?

    Most of the holes we created ourselves. All his– and those of the thousands more like him or worse — juvenile records would be sealed because we are more interested in his future than those he endangers. People are even talking about wiping the criminal records of convicted felons because it’s harder for them to find jobs if employers know the evil they have done.

    Yep, he’s evil and we’re crazy.

    David for good and sanity

  2. Ponderosa hill on February 22nd, 2018 8:52 am

    David Huie:
    Sure understand about men & women killing for the fun of it…..
    but the cats,Eagles & orcas etc. aren’t given hand grenades to increase
    the death toll. Conservatives,liberals and all fellow Americans should
    demand these (gun) problems be fixed. its absolutely crazy/stupid to
    allow a natural born idiot to buy (legally) a firearm. No easy answers ,
    but solutions we must have .

  3. David Huie Green on February 21st, 2018 8:39 pm

    “Man (and woman) are the most dangerous creatures on earth, they kill for what ever the reason. Not like an animal that kills for food to survive. It should be quite evident or there would no need for prisons. ”

    Understand that I agree with nearly everything written. Just wanted to mention that Man isn’t the only creature that kills for fun. Cats do it. Eagles do it. Orcas do it.

    We’re just better at it.

    David for better people

  4. Willard Ward on February 20th, 2018 8:23 pm

    First & foremost, this is was a horrible event. Not only were seventeen people killed but the families will have to live with this for the rest of their life. I have lost loved ones and friends, I know their pain. There is nothing that can be done to bring them back, nothing. This tragedy like so many others before should remind all of us of how short and precious life is and how easy it is to be lost. May God have mercy on all.
    Now I have to move to a different tone and ask all of you the following: How is gun control going to stop this? It will not. Man (and woman) are the most dangerous creatures on earth, they kill for what ever the reason. Not like an animal that kills for food to survive. It should be quite evident or there would no need for prisons. If there were no guns available to anyone today anywhere in the world, there would still be murders of innocent human beings. Before guns, mankind murdered by whatever means he could only just more savagely. People all over are screaming for all types of control of all types of weapons but they are pleading to the very politicians who have screwed the system up to start with. Show me an honest politician that has never been bought or influenced by some means. There are none. No ban will save anyones life if the intent is there to take life. If the original people of this land we live, the Native Americans, had owned modern day bow and arrows they would still own it. Without firing a shot. So if there is anyone out there that believes that banning a firearm will protect you from violence or someone intent on killing you or your family or a criminal will obey the law, you really need help. If you don’t like or agree with the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment or the Constitution of the United States of America, then I suggest you give up your freedoms and citizenship and move. Try China, Russia, North Korea, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, the list goes on and on. They and many more have really great civil rights policies. Now for the shooter, the person that has committed this unforgivable act, put him through the court system and if found guilty, take him out front of the courthouse and hang him until dead. Don’t shoot him, electrocute him, put him in the gas chamber or give him a lethal injection, just hang him. For everyone to see and for everyone to know that if you intentionally comment an act of violence against innocent human beings, be it one or any number, this is what will happen should you be found guilty. We have the right to bare arms because we are Americans. If you disagree that it is your right to your opinion just as I have expressed my opinion.

  5. Tabby on February 20th, 2018 5:50 am

    @Grand Locust, I have been continuously reviewing where I stand. It is extremely foolish to believe that checks from private party sales will impact shootings whatsoever. However, I would be amenable to tighter (temporary) gun laws. Only when after a time, they are shown to be ineffective, that gun rights then be expanded. That is the deal I would make. Not that it matters much. By 2040, 70% of people are expected to live in just 15 states. That kind of urbanization will be bad for the rest of us. It already is from the shooting with only you yuppies being broadcasted.

  6. Grand Locust on February 19th, 2018 1:42 pm

    Tabby this is a great nation. My southern family has lived within 150 miles of Pensacola since the 1840s, and fought for the confederacy. As my grandmother went to her first Auburn game in 1914 with her father her father dying in the 1918 flu epidemic in Opelika. However, to think that intelligent policy to protect children in school is an attack against my American culture is just the type of talk which radicalizes both left and right. Nobody is taking my guns, but if I buy or sell there needs to be better information collection so that dangerous criminals and mentally ill people can be reviewed before a transaction and transfer happens. My Southern culture is NOT being attacked when talking about protecting children with intelligent policies by government. My mother’s name was Lucy Ellen…….it does not get any more southern than that, yet she was educated and an intelligent woman. Please do not associate bad policy with my southern heritage. You do not have that right to speak for others. If your beliefs feel under attack, you might want to review where you stand on issues.

  7. Tabby on February 18th, 2018 9:59 pm

    It’s not even about gun control. It’s about individual control. The globalist yuppie urbanite liberals have been manipulating minds for decades. Whether it be erasing southern culture, individuality, or gun control, it’s all a guise for a certain agenda. Up is down, left is right. People are addicted to their phones and technology. It consumes and increasingly controls them. Hate to see this country in another 25 years.

  8. Ponderosa hill on February 18th, 2018 9:29 pm

    @ Grand Locust
    I’m thinking when an American citizen makes application and answers
    questions to see if they’re qualified/approved to purchase a firearm within these
    United States. The selling establishment should advise the buyer that there
    will be up to a 30 Day wait. If the potential buyer is not notified by them within
    the 30 days then they’ve NOT been approved. The potential buyer could contact
    the Governmental Agency in charge if dissatisfied . The selling establishment
    should express to the buyer that the normal turn-around is a week or so unless
    further examination is required. The questionnaire should be Government provided
    written in English and carefully constructed to not confuse the applicant in any way.

  9. PensacolaEd on February 18th, 2018 3:54 pm

    What is mind numbing is the prospect of giving the government an infinite amount of time before they approve a citizen’s Constitutional rights. A background check takes 2 minutes, if they can’t get their act together enough to complete one in three days, THAT’S A PROBLEM. In this Country, we have a premise that you are innocent until proven guilty, giving the Government the ability to indefinitely delay approval for me to exercise my right is a bad idea.

  10. Grand Locust on February 18th, 2018 7:33 am

    Adam Putnam is one more weather vane politician who changes direction as soon as the political wind changes. Background checks already have people slipping through the cracks, and the idea of letting a questionable person get a gun because of some arbitrary number of days is mind numbing.

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