The Florida GOP's Gun-Control Excuses Are Hilariously Dumb

The Florida GOP's Gun-Control Excuses Are Hilariously Dumb
Everyone knows Florida is run by rubes, fools, and con men. But most people likely weren't aware just how stupid the state's legislators really are here on a daily basis until this week, when a brutal Florida school massacre forced national reporters to ask the state's Republican intelligentsia how they feel about gun laws. Their answers this week have ranged from cynical lies made in bad faith to generalizations so stupid one seriously begins to wonder if it wouldn't be better to put dogs in charge of the state budget and just try living in pure anarchy for a while. Needless to say, it's been a hard week.

How hard? Here's a rundown of the most gobsmackingly dumb things Florida politicians have said after the Stoneman Douglas shooting:
1. The Republican-defeated assault weapons ban was just a "political stunt."

Who said it: This seems to be the Florida Republican Party's official explanation as to why the state House voted 36-71 to kill an assault-weapons-ban bill earlier this week as Stoneman Douglas survivors watched and wept in the gallery. Numerous state legislators have tweeted out this excuse, and Southwest Florida state Rep. Matt Caldwell tried to offer this argument on CNN this week, only to get epically swatted down by anchor Brooke Baldwin. (See the clip above.)

Why it's dumb: Who cares if the vote was a political stunt? Everything in politics is a "stunt" to some degree. Republicans happily engage in political "stunts" all the time. The Florida Legislature could ban every assault rifle in the state tomorrow if it chose to, but 71 politicians instead chose not to. The politics of this specific vote have nothing to do with the fact that the Florida GOP cannot even imagine regulating guns.

And don't give us this bullshit about how the vote wasn't done correctly from a "procedural" standpoint. Yes, the bill had stalled in multiple committees during this legislative cycle — precisely because the Florida Republican Party intentionally chose not to support it. Griping about "process" is just a method these cretins use to place extra layers between themselves and their own decisions in order to pretend they aren't responsible for things.

2. Shootings happen because Americans aren't into God anymore.

Who said it:
A whole lot of people. State Representative Randy Fine, a man who looks like a sentient raspberry, offered that as an answer on both CNN and his own Facebook Live stream yesterday. Fellow State Rep. Julio Gonzalez used this as an excuse last week on the right-wing radio show he hosts. And Miami-Dade County Commission Chair Esteban Bovo, a longtime friend of Marco Rubio, blamed the shooting on a lack of "God in public life."

Why it's dumb: Have any of these people read any world history at all? People have used the Bible to justify rape, murder, and slavery for centuries. Many white supremacists literally say they're trying to preserve the "white, Christian" heritage when they're stomping in the heads of black protesters. Sure, some people take all the correct messages from the Bible and become death-penalty abolitionist Sister Helen Prejean, one of the best human beings on Earth. But other disturbed individuals turn into Charleston church-shooter Dylann Roof, who drew images of (white) Jesus in his journals and then went on to murder black worshippers with an assault rifle. Virginia Tech Shooter Cho Seung-Hui was raised in a Christian household, which apparently led him to brag that he was about to "die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and the defenseless people" before he shot 32 people to death and then killed himself.

3. Massacres occur because of the dissolution of the two-parent household.

Who said it: Both Reps. Randy Fine and Julio Gonzalez have offered this response. Gonzalez said on his "Right Talk America" radio show that shootings might be happening because of lax family morals and a society that no longer teaches "men to be men."

Why it's dumb: Nikolas Cruz was raised by two parents — until they died. Was he supposed to prevent that somehow? Then Cruz's legal guardians became another married, heterosexual couple. Columbine's Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold both came from "intact" nuclear families that attended church regularly. So did both Roof and Cho.

4. Armed school guards or teachers could have stopped this.

Who said this: Every Republican, plus some Democrats too.

Why it's dumb: There was an armed school guard at Stoneman Douglas. You saw what happened there. Maybe, just maybe, another few armed guards could have shot Cruz if they got lucky. But they also might just as likely have shot Lorenzo Prado, an innocent Douglas student who told Tallahassee lawmakers yesterday that he was repeatedly mistaken for Cruz during the chaos, including by a professionally trained SWAT team, who thankfully didn't light him up with gunfire the second they saw him:
Prado likely would have had his head blown off had random gym teachers been allowed to patrol school grounds with concealed Glock handguns. Also, armed teachers and resource officers have accidents all the damn time already:
Update: We now also know that the armed guard at the school literally hid outside as the shooting occurred.

5. We'd have to ban every semiautomatic rifle in America

Who said it: Sen. Marco Rubio, who is currently the Most Owned Person in Florida.
Why it's dumb: There's actually pretty broad support for this idea. As New Times noted earlier today, a Quinnipiac poll from two days ago showed that 67 percent of Americans would support an assault-weapons ban. Sure, Rubio is correct in saying that it would be a massive undertaking to ban all semiautomatic firearms since even many handguns are semiautomatic nowadays, but that doesn't logically mean it's impossible. Here's an idea from military-veteran-turned-journalist Nathan Bethea:
6. "People who say, 'Let's put mental-health counselors in schools,' because there's a rise in mental health [problems], that's like saying there's a spike in headaches in schools, so let's put out Tylenol."

Who said it: Aforementioned brain-genius Randy Fine, who offered this up on his live-stream yesterday.

Why it's dumb: What does this even mean? He said he wants to figure out why people are developing mental health issues, despite the fact that A) entire fields of research are already devoted to this and B) all of them say the whole world needs more mental-health counselors. He is intellectually overwhelmed and making things up on the spot.

Also, if school-children are getting headaches, you should probably still give them Tylenol as you work to find out what's happening.

7. This is not the National Rifle Association's fault.

Who said it: Tons of people, including U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz, who is a regular guest on InfoWars.
Why it's dumb: It is absolutely the NRA's fault. This is the sort of bad-faith argument so transparently incorrect that it could only be made by people getting paid to say it. The NRA dispatches lobbyists to fight virtually all gun regulations in America. If you even attempt to pass gun-restrictions the NRA will even tell your constituents to vote you out of office. NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer infamously has a stranglehold over Tallahassee and literally writes laws for state legislators.
8. "Spoons are used to eat stuff to kill yourself with obesity, but we're not picking up spoons to get rid of obesity."

Who said it: Chronically stupid state Sen. Dennis Baxley, the Ocala legislator who authored Florida's Stand Your Ground Law, fought against building a monument to slavery victims in Florida, and attended a pro-Confederate meet-up mere days after the Charlottesville Nazi rally. He's effectively Confederate Lloyd Christmas.

He sat down with Vice News Tonight on HBO this week and offered up the following bowl of gobbledegook:
Why it's dumb: Legislators are actually trying to end obesity by regulating food-portion size. Also, spoons are infamous mass-murder weapons that have no place in civil society.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.