Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

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.

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:

Galvano on “awkward moment” in DeSantis SOS speech

DeSantis SOSGov. Ron DeSantis delivered his first State of the State speech to kick off the 2019 legislative session today, covering a wide range of topics and boasting about a variety of accomplishments since the Republican took office in January.

DeSantis bragged about ousting former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, who was harshly criticized for how his office handled the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland last year. DeSantis replaced Israel with Gregory Tony.

Israel has appealed his suspension to the Florida Senate, which has the power to reinstate or remove elected officials.

During his remarks Tuesday, DeSantis noted that Israel’s suspension “will come before the Senate soon,” adding “the failures of the former sheriff are well-documented.”

“Why any senator would want to thumb his nose at the Parkland families and to eject Sheriff Tony, who is doing a great job and has made history as the first African-American sheriff in Broward history, is beyond me,” the governor said.

When asked about his remarks later, DeSantis spoke about the families of the 17 students and school staff who were slain.

“Those families were really frustrated that action had not been taken against him. I did it within a couple days because to me, I thought it should have been done. It was just a point that not only did that give satisfaction to families but we have a guy in there now who’s really making positive changes,” DeSantis told reporters.

The governor said he’s “not worried at all” about the Senate process.

“But I do think it was an important action we took early in the administration. I just wanted to highlight it,” he said.

Senate President Bill Galvano, who appointed former House Rep. Dudley Goodlette as special master to oversee Israel’s appeal and make recommendations, wasn’t keen on DeSantis’ veiled threat.

“Of everything that was in that speech, that was a bit of an awkward moment for the governor,” Galvano, R-Bradenton, told reporters.

Galvano said he asked himself if a senator made a comment about the Broward sheriffs but didn’t believe that was the case.

“Look, he has every right to suspend him and has his reasons for doing so. But the Senate also has a role, and we’re going to do it right. We’re going to have due process and we’re going to vet through the suspension and we’ll make a decision. I’ve asked our senators to give it the respect that it’s due and not to prejudge. That’s the role of the Senate. I’ve said this before. We’re not just going to be a rubber stamp for the governor,” he said.

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.

Broward schools host day of “service and love” on first anniversary of Parkland shooting

AlyssaAlhadeff

Next month’s Valentine’s Day marks the tragic, one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 14 students and three faculty members were slain and 17 others were injured.

The Parkland massacre — one of the nation’s worst mass shootings — sparked a months-long investigation, stricter school-safety requirements and changes to the state’s gun laws.

The horrific event also resulted in the ouster of former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, whose removal was  one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ first actions after taking office last week.

Broward schools are planning a series of ways to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, including “A Day of Service and Love” at MSD High School.

“It will be a day to give back to the community in honor of MSD’s 17 fallen eagles, the students and staff who were lost one year ago,” the Broward County school board said in a press release highlighting some of the Feb. 14 events.

The Parkland high school will be open from 7:40 a.m. until noon, “during which time students can participate in service projects including serving breakfast to local first responders and packing meals for undernourished children,” according to the release.

At 10:17 a.m., all of the county’s schools — in addition to those in and outside of Broward  — will be asked to join the district in observing a moment of silence “to honor those whose lives were lost and recognize the injured.”

Other highlights of the one-year commemoration include:

At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School:

  • Students will begin projects at 7:40 a.m. and will dismiss at 11:40 a.m. The school will close at noon.
  • District staff and community partners will provide service-learning activities alongside MSD staff.
  • Mental health staff will be available and the Wellness Center, located on the school’s campus, will be open.
  • Therapy dogs will be available.
  • BCPS Technical Colleges will provide Services with Love to staff and students, including but not limited to manicures, massages, and healthy cooking demonstrations.

At schools throughout the District:

  • Schools will remain open on February 14, 2019.

  • Schools are encouraged to participate in “A Day of Service and Love” and engage students in school-based activities that serve others within their schools or local community. Specific activities will vary per school.

  • The District is providing guidance to school leaders regarding the one-year Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School commemoration.

  • The entire District will observe a moment of silence at 10:17 a.m.

Father of slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS student: “Alex should be at camp”

AlexAlex Schachter loved music.

The trombone player was a member of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School marching band, and yesterday was his 15th birthday.

But Alex will always remain a 14-year-old.

The budding musician was one of 14 teenagers and three faculty members shot dead on Feb. 14 at the Parkland school.

Alex’s father, Max, a member of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, said that yesterday was a tough day for the Schachter family.

“Alex should be at camp,” Schachter said during a break at an MSD commission meeting Tuesday. “Instead, his sister read his poem to a tree dedicated in his honor and he’s in a box. In the ground. Next to his mother.”

Schachter said he’s fighting to improve school safety measures, protect students and hold people accountable for their actions surrounding the mass shooting.

Schachter posted a heartbreaking video on Twitter on Monday, saying “the sadness is unbearable.”

“Alex should be here to watch his brother go off to college,” he said. “He should be here to watch his sister Morgan, in her play. He should be here to be with his family and to be with his friends. He should not be buried next to his mother at 14-years-old.”

 — By Nathalie Sczublewski

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.”

Broxson defends vote that made him a Hammer target

Panhandle Republican Sen. Doug Broxson shot back at a both-guns-smoking attack from Florida NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer, who targeted the Gulf Breeze lawmaker for what she considered caving on a school-safety measure earlier this month.
Hammer targeted Broxson this week in one of her venerable “alerts” issued to NRA supporters.
The focus of the attack was SB 7026, the school-safety measure passed in response to the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
To put it mildly, Hammer was less than pleased with provisions in the measure that raised from 18 to 21 and imposed a three-day waiting period to purchase long guns, such as the rifle — purchased legally and without any waiting period last year — used by 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz to kill 14 students and four faculty members on Valentine’s Day.

 

Broxson, Hammer wrote in red highlights in her email missive, was “the linchpin” in the vote in favor of the Senate measure.

“If Doug Broxson had kept his word, the bill would have been killed in the Senate and Senate leadership would have had to start over and bring back a true school safety bill without the gun control provisions. But at the last minute, Broxson caved to threats and promises from Senate leadership and switched his vote and sold you out,” she wrote.

We reached out to Broxson yesterday to give him an opportunity to respond to Hammer’s attack.

Here’s what he had to say:

“I am a strong defender of the second amendment and a strong defender of the NRA, and that will never change. What we did with the school safety bill is harden our schools, increase school security, and increase measures to stop mentally or emotionally ill individuals from causing carnage in a one-day, one-moment transaction. I am proud of my role in that effort, and I know that the one thing the voters in my district will reward every election is decisive leadership,” he said.

Federal judge shoots down goat farmer’s request to intervene in NRA lawsuit

geiten-1445270021WfYHe says he lives near “one of the worst gun pits” and “has had bullets fly over his head,” but that’s no reason Palatka goat farmer Mitchell Williams should be allowed to  join in a federal lawsuit filed by the National Rifle Association last month, according to U.S. District Judge Mark Walker.

Walker on Friday denied Williams’ at-times-hilarious motion to intervene in the challenge, filed by the NRA almost immediately after Gov. Rick Scott signed a sweeping school-safety law on March 9.

The NRA’s complaint focuses on a provision in the new law that raised from 18 to 21 the age to purchase long guns, including semi-automatic rifles like the one 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz last year bought legally in Florida and used to slaughter 17 people and injure 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. The NRA alleges  the new age requirement, already in place to purchase handguns, is unconstitutional.

Williams, the goat farmer, wants to ban the sale of bullets to  prevent future school shootings.

“The sale and purchase of ammunition is the weak leak to the trail of lunacy leading to many of these shootings,” Williams wrote in his eight-page motion.

The lack of bullets, shells, etc., “will mean that the gun is more or less dangerous than a steel pipe of the same weight and size, he wrote.

As good (or bad) as Williams’ logic might be, Walker didn’t buy it.

Williams doesn’t have any express right to intervene in the case, even though he asserted he has an “obvious interest in seeing that students are not murdered that might have bought one or more of (his) goats,” as the judge noted in his order denying the goat farmer’s motion.

“Having read Mr. Williams’s motion, it seems that his qualms are better suited for resolution by a legislature than by this Court,” Walker wrote.

Williams maintains that the new law does not go far enough and proposes a new restriction on  and proposes “alternative solutions,” such as restrictions on the sale and use of ammunition, Walker noted.

But, the judge wrote, “It is not this Court’s job to fashion new laws.”

“If Mr. Williams wants to share his ideas with the Florida Legislature, he is more than welcome to,” Walker concluded.

In a footnote, Walker even gave Williams a little assistance, should the Palatka man decide to take the judge’s advice, by providing a link to the “contact us” section of the Florida Legislature’s website.

 

UPDATE: Deutch, Moskowitz blast Putnam, DeSantis on guns

IMG_0075UPDATE: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s government office responded to the blog with a schedule from Feb. 20 showing a one-hour visit to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. And Putnam’s gubernatorial campaign spokeswoman, Amanda Bevis, had this to say:

“It’s no surprise the Democrats are selling a story full of untruths. If they did their research, they would know that Adam Putnam has in fact visited the school, has met with the students and mourned with them for their loss, and has met with law enforcement officials and the Governor to discuss what we as a state can do to prevent further tragedies like the massacre that took the lives of so many innocent Floridians. It’s the Democrats who are politicizing this tragedy – using falsehoods to further their own agenda of limiting our Second Amendment rights. The monster in Parkland, who was a red flag that should have never gotten his hands on a gun, cannot and should not be compared to law-abiding citizens who seek to defend themselves and their families.”

 

 

Congressman Ted Deutch and state Rep. Jared Moskowitz shredded U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Florida Ag Commish Adam Putnam — Republicans in a heated race to succeed Gov. Rick Scott — over a new school-safety law and gun regulations in general.

The Florida Dems — who aren’t running for governor, as far as we know — spoke to reporters during a conference call Monday morning, with Moskowitz challenging both “empty suit” Putnam and DeSantis to a debate on the issue.

“I’ll meet in Taylor County, if that’s what they want,” Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 14 students and three staff were slaughtered on Feb. 14.

Scott recently signed into law a measure, aimed at the Parkland massacre, that raises the age from 18 to 21 and imposes a three-day waiting period for the purchase of long guns, such as the semi-automatic rifle used by 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz on Valentine’s Day. The new law also bans bump stocks, which can make semi-automatic weapons mimic fully automatic guns.

Moskowitz condemned Putnam, who has said he would not have signed the bill into law, for failing to visit the school, something Scott and the other members of the Florida Cabinet did, and for not meeting with students who traveled to the Capitol to lobby  for school safety measures and stricter gun regulations.

“He hid in his office on the ground floor while everybody else was trying to figure out how we work together to keep kids safe in schools,” Moskowitz said during the conference call.

DeSantis, too, “did not bring anything to the table,” according to Moskowitz.

“Would he have signed the bill? He should be challenged to answer that question,” he said.

The call was a taste of what’s sure to come as the race to replace Scott heats up, now that the Legislature’s packed up and gone home.

“It’s pretty clear that anyone who spends five minutes looking at the records of both my colleague, Congressman DeSantis, and Adam Putnam that they’ve chosen their A-rating from the NRA over their concern about public safety, the lives of kids, the city of Parkland and the state of Florida. And that makes them both unfit to serve as governor of the state,” Deutch said.

DeSantis’ lengthy pro-gun voting record  “has shown utter disregard for and rejection of the kind of common sense measures that can help save lives,” Deutch said.