guns

Stoneman Douglas families pushing Congress to act on school safety

Parents who lost children in the 2018 Parkland high school shooting are pushing Congress to help prevent future school shootings with new legislation that would increase awareness about school-safety measures nationwide.

The “Luke and Alex School Safety Act,” introduced Thursday, is named after Alex Schachter and Luke Hoyer, two students who were killed on Feb. 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The House bill was filed by Florida U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, Mario Diaz-Balart, Stephanie Murphy and John Rutherford, with the help of Alex’s dad, Max Schachter, and Tom and Gena Hoyer, Luke’s parents.

The bipartisan House proposal is a companion to a Senate bill introduced earlier this month by Florida Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.

“This bipartisan and bicameral bill builds on the work of Parkland parents by requiring a dedicated home within the federal government for school security best practices and guidance that will help prevent gun violence and save lives in schools across the country,” Deutch, a Democrat representing CD 22, said in a press release.

Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican, said the bill would “create a one-stop-shop for schools, families, and community officials to obtain valuable resources on school safety best practices.”

Here are more details about what the bill would do:

·       Create a federal clearinghouse with information from across the nation on school-safety recommendations, such as threat prevention, comprehensive school safety measures and incident response.

·       Recommendations made by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission would be among those included in the database.

·       Information would be stored within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

·       The U.S. Secretaries of Education, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and the U.S. Attorney General would review all grant programs administered by their  agencies and identify any grant program that may be able to be used for school security improvements.

— By Ana Ceballos.

Gwen Graham tweet storm credits DeSantis ‘puppeteers’ for post-election ‘bait and switch’

Former congresswoman Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Florida governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham who last year sought the Democratic nomination for governor, went on a Twitter rant Monday morning against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and his “puppeteers.”

Graham lost a heated primary bid for the Democratic nomination to former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who was defeated by DeSantis in November.

In her first tweet storm, Graham called the legislative session that ended in May “the worst ever, if you care about the future of Florida,” hitting on voting rights, education, LGBTQ rights, guns and other issues.

Here’s the rest of Graham’s Twitter posts:

“If DeSantis actually cared about increasing the opportunities for Floridians to vote, he would have vetoed that bill. If he actually cared about our environment, he would have vetoed the toll road to nowhere. (The plastic straw veto was the “bait” on that one.)

“If DeSantis actually cared about a quality education for all students, he would have shunned the advances of @JebBush/@richardcorcoran and the for profit education industry in Florida. I was sick when I heard about Corcoran becoming Commissioner. The man hates public education.

“If DeSantis actually cared about the LGBTQ community, he would have expanded anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. A “bait” trip to the Pulse nightclub without action is just what it is – a photo op and nothing more.

“If DeSantis was concerned about gun violence and mass shootings, he would have vetoed the @NRA bill that arms our teachers. More guns =‘s more deaths. Hard stop. But, with an NRA endorsed, A rated Gov, Marion Hammer got what she wanted. Even @SenRickScott stood up to her on that.

“If DeSantis wanted to prove that he wasn’t a Lil’ Trump, he would not have supported the unnecessary bill banning sanctuary cities. In a state as diverse as Florida, the Gov sent the message that he is okay with stoking fear, hatred and divisiveness. Just like @realDonaldTrump.

“So, to those who say, “He isn’t as bad as I thought he would be.” I say, “Congrats to the DeSantis’ puppeteers.” And, to anyone who cares about Florida and her future, stop taking their bait. What the Governor has done is far worse than bad. Tragically a lot of time to go.”

— By Jim Turner and Dara Kam.

 

Hammer gets an ‘F’ from NRA mutineer

We-the-People-Header-1Marion Hammer’s report cards can make Republicans tremble and Democrats cheer.

But now the onetime president of the national gun-rights group, who also serves on its board of directors, is the one who doesn’t make the mark, according to an NRA donor staging a leadership coup.

David Dell’Aquila filed a federal lawsuit against the NRA earlier this month, alleging that the gun-rights group misled contributors, as reported by The Wall Street Journal earlier this month:

A donor to the National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit against the gun-rights group, seeking class-action status, and claiming the group’s funding solicitations were “intentionally and materially false” because the NRA spent donated funds on executive perks, large legal fees, and other expenses unrelated to the group’s core mission.

Dell’Aquila’s mutiny isn’t isolated to federal court. He’s also drumming up support to rid the NRA of its CEO, Wayne LaPierre, amid reports of lavish spending that included $275,000 on spendy suits and a $39,000 single-day spree at a tony Beverly Hills boutique.

Dell’Aquila’s launched a website — “Help Save the NRA” — to recruit other gun-rights advocates to join the demand that LaPierre and the board of directors get the boot.

“We are a well-organized team that has substantial money, resources and support. Although a few high-dollar donors desire to be anonymous, they and our rank-and-file NRA members are the life sustaining blood of the NRA and demand new leadership, accountability and transparency,” Dell’Aquila wrote in a letter to the board, posted on the website.

Dell’Aquila — who’s donated at least $100,000 to the group and had pledged millions more, according to the WSJ — crafted a report card scoring members who serve on the board of the NRA, notorious for the “grades” the group hands out to state and federal legislators.

He gave “A” grades to members who “advocated the replacement of Mr.LaPierre, and/or publicized one’s removal from committee(s) due to questioning leadership, spending, policies, etc,” Dell’Aquila wrote.

And he bestowed “F” grades to members who support “LaPierre and his leadership team with insufficient oversight.”

Hammer was among more than two dozen members who received a failing grade.

The rationale Dell’Aquila gave for Hammer’s “F?”  She “wrote letter in support of WLP.”

Last month, Hammer penned a missive following a contentious NRA meeting. In the July 14 email, the NRA past president advised members of the group that “we must now move on.”

Hammer not only took the failing grade in stride, she flipped it into a compliment.

“When it comes to grading NRA Board members, it is my view that “F” stands for Freedom Fighter because  every NRA Board Member that Mr. Dell’Aquila graded with an “F” has been fighting to protect his Second Amendment rights and his Freedom for many years.  The fact that he is unappreciative, or perhaps ignorant of the continued personal sacrifices of those he arbitrarily and cavalierly maligns, speaks volumes,” she wrote in an email to The News Service of Florida, when asked about the report card.

Among the demands of Dell’Aquila and his junta: the removal of all past NRA president from the board of directors. That would include Hammer, of course.

Dell’Aquila is also demanding that the board cancel its upcoming “cruise/fishing adventure” in Alaska, questioning the $100,000 price tag for the Alaska board meeting.

“If you can justify such an expense given the current financial crisis of the NRA, you have the ears of over a 100 million voters who want to understand your rationale for this, and literally a dozen other financial irregularities,” Dell’Aquila wrote.

And, because Florida, the leader of the mutiny has someone in mind to take LaPierre’s place: political firebrand Allen West, a former Sunshine State congressman who serves on the NRA board of directors.

“There is a cabal of cronyism operating within the NRA and that exists within the Board of Directors. It must cease, and I do not care if I draw their angst. My duty and responsibility is to the Members of the National Rifle Association, and my oath, since July 31, 1982, has been to the Constitution of the United States, not to any political party, person, or cabal,” West wrote in a statement posted on his website in May.

 

Ivy League snub: Harvard rescinds pro-gun Parkland activist’s acceptance

When he and his classmates descended on the Capitol shortly after the horrific attack on their Parkland high school, Kyle Kashuv stood out: He was one of the only teens who wasn’t pushing for stricter gun control.

Kashuv, who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School earlier this summer, has been embraced by conservatives and the National Rifle Association in his rapid arc to fame since the Feb. 14, 2018 mass shooting that left 17 students and faculty dead and 17 other people injured at the Broward County school). Kashuv, who told us last year that his parents are from Israel, has also been castigated by those on the left for his conservative views and unwavering support of President Donald Trump.

The 18-year-old took to Twitter today to inform his more than 301,000 followers that Harvard University has rescinded its acceptance of him following reports of using racial slurs in a shared document several years ago.

Kashuv says he turned down other scholarship offers after he deciding to head to the Ivy League school.

“I’m exploring all options at the moment.”

Read the entire thread:

Gaetz takes on Cuomo after going viral over Parkland exchange with Parkland dad

After making international news for scolding the parents of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teens who were among the 17 students and faculty gunned down a year ago, Congressman Matt Gaetz spent nearly 11 minutes in a verbal slugfest with CNN’s Chris Cuomo last night.

Gaetz, a Panhandle Republican who is one of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ top advisors, made national news after a heated exchange with Manuel Oliver, whose 17-year-old son, Joaquin (Guac) Oliver, was among the 14 slain students killed at the Parkland school a year ago.

The confrontation between the former Florida House representative and the grieving dad came during a congressional hearing on gun violence. Oliver repeatedly yelled out when Gaetz, a fierce ally of President Donald Trump, brought up The Wall as a critical solution to the issue. Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, was also among the victims and who was sitting next to Oliver, also loudly objected to Gaetz’s take.

Video of Gaetz pointing his finger at Oliver and Guttenberg, and questioning whether  the men should be booted from the committee went viral.

Last night, Gaetz — a strong NRA proponent — told Cuomo he “wasn’t trying to get Mr. Oliver thrown out” of the committee.

Gaetz said he was concerned for a woman who was “violently raped in a gun-free zone” who was seated in front of Oliver.

“He didn’t mean to intimidate her, but they did,” Gaetz said.

When pressed by Cuomo about why he brought up illegal immigration during a debate about gun violence, Gaetz said he “wanted to highlight the fact that there are victims of gun violence who would be in a better position today” with a wall across the southern U.S. border.

“I did not want to throw the guy out,” he said. “A wall will mean fewer people will die at the hands of illegal aliens.”

Oliver later told CNN he found Gaetz’s remarks at the committee hearing, at which universal background check legislation was discussed, was “pretty offensive.”

“No. 1, I don’t think you’re qualified for this. No. 2, you’re asking us to waste time. You are wasting time from us really to go ahead and solve the problem,” Oliver said. “If this is how this is going to work, I have to stop this guy. I have to let the nation know he’s wrong.”

Watch Oliver on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.

Galvano: Gun-toting teachers on the table

IMG_1251One of the most fiercely debated components of the sweeping school-safety law crafted in response to the deadly Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is back.

The commission tasked with investigating the Parkland massacre and making recommendations wants to expand the controversial “school guardian” program to allow armed teachers to bring their guns to their classrooms.

(More about that here.)

Teachers, parents and gun-control advocates raised heck over the proposal during the legislative session that ended in March. The state ended up with a watered-down version of the original bill, which now allows school personnel who are specially trained but are not full-time classroom instructors to be armed.

But Senate President Bill Galvano told reporters Thursday he’s open to the idea of allowing teachers to pack heat.

He said the commission made the recommendation after viewing video of the horrific attack at Stoneman Douglas, which left 14 students and three faculty members dead and 17 others injured.

Realistic conversation about “what can work and what seems like it could work and just makes us feel good.”

“They realized that just having responsive support and counter-defense was not enough,” the Bradenton Republican said of the commission, led by Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

“I am very open to looking at that suggestion,” Galvano said of arming teachers.

He noted that he objected to Gov. Rick Scott’s request to allow schools to use left-over money that had been earmarked for the school guardian program for the traditional school-resource officers, who are generally sheriff’s deputies.

The Senate leader acknowledged that the teachers’ union and others would likely participate in talks about the proposal.

“It will have to be a matter of everybody understanding, including myself, and having that realistic conversation about what can work and what seems like ti could work and just makes us feel good,” Galvano said.

Family members whose loved ones were killed by confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz, however, aren’t sold on the idea.

Broward County teacher Debbi Hixon’s husband, Chris, was the Parkland school’s athletics director and wrestling coach and was among the victims.

Teachers already have to prepare students for standardized tests and are responsible for their emotional and physical well-being, Hixon said.

“To add the burden of knowing that you’re responsible for taking out a shooter if they come into your room, even if a teacher thinks they are up to that task, I just think it is unfair to have that expectation for them,” she told us Thursday.

Watch it: DeSantis and “the big man himself”

Days after snagging the endorsement of “the big man himself,” U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis launched his first campaign ad in his bid to capture the GOP nomination for governor.

DeSantis is trailing state Ag Commish Adam Putnam in the polls and in fundraising, but could have a priceless asset in the GOP primary: President Donald Trump.

The ad is “part of a $12 million ad buy between now and Election Day,” according to a release issued by DeSantis’ campaign.

Apart from the glowing praise from the president (called “the big man himself” in the 30-second spot) of DeSantis as a “brilliant leader” and a “warrior,” the ad highlights DeSantis’ resume as an Iraq war vet and JAG officer who “dealt with terrorists in Guantanamo,” is “100 percent pro-life” and who is “leading the charge against illegal immigration.”

Oh, and DeSantis also has “the guts to fight establishment politicians in both parties to drain the swamp,” according to the ad.

 

Hammer: YETI stuff too expensive to blow up!

IMG_5658(1)It’s no secret to Truth or Dara followers that the National Rifle Association and Texas-based YETI are in a shoot-out over the high-dollar cooler-maker’s decision to abandon the national gun-rights group.

The decision prompted NRA supporters and Second Amendment advocates to turn to social media sites to launch an all-out assault on YETI, using the #BoycottYETI campaign, pics of YETI coolers turned into port-a-potties and videos of folks blowing up pricey YETI supplies — the coolers range from $200 to more upwards of $1,200 — in retaliation.

So it might come as a surprise that NRA Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer, a former president of the national gun lobbying-group, sent out an alert urging gun owners to drop their assault on YETI equipment.

“Don’t blow up your Yeti cooler. Don’t shoot your Yeti cooler full of holes. Don’t chain your Yeti cooler to the back of your pick-up truck and drag it down the highway. Don’t glue a toilet seat to Yeti cooler. Don’t hang your Yeti cooler in a tree and beat it with a baseball bat,” Hammer wrote in an email alert .

We’re not sure if Hammer’s message was meant to add to the bag of tricks already employed by disgruntled YETI owners.

But the Tallahassee-based great-grandma advised unhappy NRA folks to convert their YETI into a statement.

“Put a big ‘I stand with the NRA Foundation’ sticker on your YETI cooler and keep using it. They cost too much money to destroy to make a statement. Let a sticker make your statement,” she wrote in the alert.

By our kitchen-table standards, she’s right.

YETI coolers start at $200, and can run upwards of $1,200 for boaty brand-conscious buyers.

The NRA will be handing out stickers to cover YETI labels in Dallas at its annual convention in Dallas this weekend. The stickers will be available at the “NRA Foundation Wall of Guns” raffle, according to Hammer’s alert.

President Donald Trump is expected to attend the convention.

 

 

YETI spin doesn’t sit well with Marion Hammer

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We’re not bored with the NRA-YETI feud yet.

NRA Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer, a former president of the national gun-rights group, gave us a little more detail about the intensifying battle between hipster cooler company YETI and the National Rifle Association.

According to Hammer, YETI cut off its affiliation with the NRA Foundation in response to the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which left 14 students and three staff members dead.

The massacre prompted demands for stricter gun laws and calls for companies to cut off their affiliation with the NRA.

Last month, YETI — whose coolers were coveted by NRA supporters at banquets and auctions — did that, sparking a social media backlash and a #BoycottYETI movement.

Here’s what Hammer told us this morning about the origin of the spat:

“YETI severed ties with the NRA and is now engaging in damage control after a backlash from many of its customers. In early March, YETI refused to place a previously negotiated order from NRA-ILA, citing ‘recent events’ as the reason – a clear reference to the tragedy in Parkland, Florida. YETI then delivered notice to the NRA Foundation that it was terminating a 7 year agreement and demanded that the NRA remove the YETI name and logo from all NRA digital assets, as well as refrain from using any YETI trademarks in future print material. While YETI is trying to spin the story otherwise, those are the facts.”

YETI fires back at NRA over sponsorship shoot-out. Hammer: Shame on you again!

YETI-COOLER-01-800x416With social media posts of folks shooting up their YETI mugs and coolers, or repurposing them for less sanitary activities, the Texas-based company responded yesterday to attacks from gun owners.

The flap started after YETI withdrew its discounting and sponsorship for the NRA Foundation, a non-profit that’s focused on youth and education programs, according to the gun-rights group.

YETI’s decision sparked an outcry from NRA supporters, who quickly launched a #BoycottYETI social media campaign.

But, yesterday, YETI released a statement saying the NRA’s statement issued on April 20 was “inaccurate.” And the company denies it targeted the NRA, saying it had eliminated “a group of outdated discounting programs” for the NRA and “number of other organizations.”

The company also took issue with the NRA’s accusation that YETI had abandoned its commitment to helping young people enjoy the great outdoors.

“Nothing is further from the truth. YETI was founded more than 10 years ago with a passion for the outdoors, and over the course of our history we have actively and enthusiastically supported hunters, anglers and the broader outdoor community. We have been devoted to and will continue to directly support causes tied to our passion for the outdoors, including by working with many organizations that promote conservation and management of wildlife resources and habitat restoration,” the company said.

Here’s the YETI statement, issued on Twitter yesterday:

A few weeks ago, YETI notified the NRA Foundation, as well as a number of other organizations, that we were eliminating a group of outdated discounting programs. When we notified the NRA Foundation and the other organizations of this change, YETI explained that we were offering them an alternative customization program broadly available to consumers and organizations, including the NRA Foundation. These facts directly contradict the inaccurate statement the NRA-ILA distributed on April 20.

Further, the NRA-ILA stated in that same public communication that “(YETI) has declined to continue helping America’s young people enjoy outdoor recreational activities.” Nothing is further from the truth. YETI was founded more than 10 years ago with a passion for the outdoors, and over the course of our history we have actively and enthusiastically supported hunters, anglers and the broader outdoor community. We have been devoted to and will continue to directly support causes tied to our passion for the outdoors, including by working with many organizations that promote conservation and management of wildlife resources and habitat restoration. From our website to our film footage and from our social media posts to our ambassadors, YETI has always prominently featured hunters pursuing their passions. Moreover, YETI is unwavering in our belief in and commitment to the Constitution of the United States and its Second Amendment.

YETI’s response only seemed to inflame the already red-hot NRA.

Marion Hammer, the NRA’s Florida lobbyist, blasted the Austin company for “calling us liars” in an alert issued this morning.

“Perhaps the people writing YETI’s damage control statements are not talking to the people who enforced YETI’s decisions and refused our orders. We had even offered the YETI Roadie in one of our sponsorship levels for 2018 – which we’ve had to cancel,” Hammer wrote. “We told you the truth.”

Here’s Hammer’s missive:

“If it wasn’t bad enough that YETI dropped The NRA Foundation as a client, now they’re calling us liars because we informed our members and friends of their actions.

The NRA Foundation has over 1,100 “Friends of NRA Committees” around the country. These committees host banquets and auctions that are attended by hundreds of thousands of guests each year.  These events raise funds to support charitable causes and programs.  The NRA Foundation supports the needs of  youth programs for education, safety and training, as well as law enforcement needs, shooting ranges and conservation programs.

For many years we have purchased coolers from YETI for our auctions. We have auctioned off many thousands of YETI coolers each year. YETI recently dropped The NRA Foundation as a client.  Not only would they not take our orders for more coolers, they forced us to cancel orders already in the system that they said they would not fill.

Three days after we notified you of YETI’s decision to drop The NRA Foundation, YETI issued their prepared statement in which they admit they dropped us but claim they simply eliminated the discount program and dropped other (unnamed) organizations as well.  That’s news to us.

Perhaps the people writing YETI’s damage control statements are not talking to the people who enforced YETI’s decisions and refused our orders. We had even offered the YETI Roadie in one of our sponsorship levels for 2018 – which we’ve had to cancel.

We told you the truth.

YETI’s attempts at damage control is to say our statement is not accurate.  Shame on you again YETI.  You know you made a mistake.  A big one. Now you must live with your mistake.