Florida State Legislator: Partisanship on Gun Control Won't Cut it

February 21, 2018

Students across Florida -- and the nation -- held walkouts in solidarity with Parkland, Fla., Wednesday. The protests come one day after Florida House Republicans blocked a move by Democrats to debate a ban on assault weapons in the state.

State Representative Jared Moskowitz (D-Coral Springs) explains the response inside Florida's Capitol to the student protests for more gun control.

"We have not talked about meaningful gun control in 20 years in the state of Florida," says Moskowitz. "It is the students who are the ones getting the attention and making something happen."

It's been one week since the mass shooting inside a Parkland high school left 17 dead.

"These kids are still sad, these kids are still grieving. But they are also determined," says Moskowitz, whose district includes the Parkland community. "They want to see something done."

Until a court ruling in 2017, Florida had a law on the books preventing doctors from discussing gun safety with patients.

"Florida is, unfortunately, the Petri dish for the NRA," says Moskowitz. "I am angrier than angry. I've been going to funeral after funeral, and I'm sad, and I'm distraught."


MALE_1: In Florida, hundreds of students marched on the Capitol today. [NOISE]. The group shouted never again and shame on you one day after Republicans blocked a move by Democrats to debate a ban on assault weapons in the state. As we just mentioned, students across the country in Florida also held walkouts at their schools to show solidarity. The event today marks one week since the mass shooting inside The Parkland High School that left 17 dead. We're now joined by Democratic Florida State Representative, Jared Moscowitz. Uh, Representative Moscowitz, a pleasure to have you on. Thank you so much for joining us. So, what is the response inside the Capitol right now to these student protests?

Jared Moscowitz: Well, the response has been overwhelming. Uh, the students are really, uh, the difference here. Um, I've been talking to Democrats and Republicans, uh, who are- are trying to do something. We are finally changing the conversation on the State of Florida. We've not talked about meaningful gun control, uh, in 20 years, uh, in the State of Florida. So, uh, the students have done that. Obviously, the horrible tragedy has started the conversation, but it's the students, uh, who are the ones that are getting the attention and making something happen. Uh, obviously, I would tell every Republican, every Democrat, every person in the cabinet, the legislature and the senate, they'll meet with these students and listen to what they have to say. Uh, you know, you- the people who made it out of that building, uh, they are the ones you should be afraid of because they're coming for you. They wanna see something done, and usual pardon- partisanship, partisan rankering, not getting things done, that's not going to cut it this time around.

MALE_2: Wha- what did you grasp from some of the conversations with the students, with the families? What repeatedly came up? And- and if you could sense exactly, you know, where their emotions were at this point in time because last week we saw a lot of grieving families, this week we see a lot of very charged, uh, and- and people on a mission to make sure that change is brought.

Jared Moscowitz: Well, emotions are not mutually exclusive. These kids are still sad. These kids are- are still grieving. Uh, but they're also determined. They're frustrated. They're angry. Uh, all of those things are happening, uh, simultaneously. Um, you know, my conversation with families, you know, they wanna see something changed. My conversation with the kids, they get it. They get exactly what's going on. They get that government has done nothing, and they know these issues. They know there was not one thing that went wrong that caused murder in Stoneman Douglas. They know it's a multiple issue things. It's the AR-15. It's the extended magazines. It's background checks, its waiting periods. It's, uh, making sure that we adequately fund our mental health. They know what's school hardening. They know it's school resource officers. They know that four levels of government had information on the student, and they didn't speak to each other. And as a result, people had pieces of the puzzle, and they couldn't put the puzzle together. So, government has to talk to each other. They know that government systemically failed them. Um, but- but they're not looking backwards. They're looking forwards. Uh, these kids have been so impressive. I know they've impressed you. They've impressed the country. Uh, but again, you know, while we're up here, we're legislators, and we make policy. Uh, thank God for these kids because without them, this wouldn't be happening.

MALE_1: Uh, yeah. Sophomore, uh, Emma Gonzales, in particular, she tweeted this really fascinating tweet. She said, "The anger that I feel right now is indescribable." Uh, in- in tell a court ruling last year, Florida essentially have laws on the books preventing doctors from discussing gun safety with patients. So, why is Florida so historically resistant to taking stronger action? So, you see the tweet right there. Why is Florida so historically resistant to taking on stronger gun actions right now?

Jared Moscowitz: What you guys might not even realize is that there's even worse laws on the books in Florida. So, if you're a Mayor or a City Commissioner, and you wanna have background checks in your city, uh, you can't even pass that. If you wanted to ban a AR-15 in the city of Miami, the Mayor can't even pass that because the, um, majority has put laws in place that would allow the Governor to remove you from office and throw you in jail if you try to do that. Uh, so, uh, you know, Florida is unfortunately the petri dish for the NRA. Uh, this is where they bring up these ideas. They try them. They see how they are. They poll test them and then they roll them out to the rest of the community. The NRA representative here in town used to be the president of the NRA National. Uh, and so, uh, we are unfortunately, for the NRA, are where they experiment. You know, as far as Emma's anger, I- I- I am angrier than angry. Um, I've been going to funeral after funeral, and I'm sad, and I'm distraught. When I leave, I'm furious. Uh, and these parents of these victims are furious. Uh, and that's why I say emotions are not mutually exclusive because we can be sad and distraught, uh, and hopeless and hopeful at the same time, and determined. Uh, but I can tell you these kids are angry. They're motivated. Uh, and- and the ones that aren't registered to vote, they're getting registered, and they're voting in November.

MALE_2: Absolutely. Wh- what is your impression of how quickly this group of teenagers, this group of young adults, uh, has been able to mobilize this movement?

Jared Moscowitz: Well, it's been amazing. Uh, and for the people out there that say, "Oh, it's fake. Oh, they're actors. Oh, they're getting paid. Oh, it's special interests." Uh, I can tell you, these are kids from my neighborhood. These are kids from the local school. Um, these are kids who went to Douglas. These are kids who ran out of that building, ran for their life. These are kids who saw their friends lying on the ground. These are kids that have been attending funerals. So, uh, I don't know who- who the actors are. Uh, I know who the posers are. Uh, that's for sure, it's the people who are saying that these kids aren't genuine. Uh, this is what America looks like. This is how coun- we've brought major change in this country before. Groups have risen up and demanded the system changed. It just so happens that it's kids. Maybe we're not used to that. Maybe we're not used to kids telling adults what to do, and that makes them comfortable. But hey, if the adults in the rooms are failing, let's listen to our children.

MALE_1: Uh, Representative Moscowitz, uh, you know, as we had our Jenny Durkan in Washington just report just a few wa- minutes ago, uh, Washington's softening a little bit on this particular issue. President Trump, uh, has made an announcement that he wants to ban bump stocks, and he also- the report- according to reports from Jonathan Swann over at Axios, he's open to raising age limits to buy guns. Does this essentially give you hope now that things are now potentially moving in the right direction towards correcting what we saw off from last week?

Jared Moscowitz: Well, as an American, I'd like to say that the president gives me hope. Uh, but I'll tell you something. I don't wanna hear that he's open to it. Just do it. You're the President of the United States. Congress is broken. They're not going to help you. But they also shouldn't be your excuse. I'm sure at the Oval Office, they have pens, and I'm sure that they have paper, really nice paper, ceremonial paper, executive order paper. Have somebody type up a nice executive order and sign your name and show it to the room like you do when you sign other executive orders. And we don't need to wait for Jeff Sessions to act on your memo, just sign an executive order and ban bump stocks. Just sign an executive order and deal with background checks. This is what you ran about, right? You wanted to make America great again? Uh, you- you're not a politician. Uh, that's- that's what you told everybody, even the people who didn't vote for you. So, show us that you can be a leader. I mean, do I have to say nice things? Do I have to say, you know, you have the greatest hair and, you- you know, you ran the greatest company in the world and your children are all beautiful? If that'll work to get you to sign an executive order, I'll say all of those things. And I mean what I'm saying. But, I mean, listen, this is the time to lead. Congress isn't going to do it. You're the president.

MALE_1: Uh, we really wanna thank Florida State Representative Jared Moscowitz for joining us right now. And again, Representative, our thoughts al- from all of us here at Cheddar are with you and your community and everybody, of course, that's there. Thank you so much for joining us.

Jared Moscowitz: Thank you.