A new TV ad campaign is hitting Florida airwaves to ask Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to take national action against gun violence and pass background-check and red-flag laws.
The ads aim to reach the Florida senators while they're home during the August recess. Two Miami-based ads addressing Rubio will air in Spanish and English, while a Tampa-targeted ad addresses Scott. He and Rubio received A+ ratings from the NRA in 2018 and 2016, respectively.
The advertising campaign cites major mass-shooting incidents in the United States over the past seven years, including the massacres at Orlando's Pulse nightclub and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
"Florida changes everything," says Gay Valimont, the Florida chapter leader of Moms Demand Action. "For a long time, Florida has been a petri dish for the NRA, but Rick Scott passed sensible gun legislation after Parkland, and Marco Rubio cosponsored a red-flag bill at the federal level. We feel like they could really lead Republicans that still fear the NRA to vote with their hearts and not with their campaign donations."
In 2018, then-Governor Scott signed a bill that raised the minimum age for purchasing a gun from 18 to 21, imposed a three-day waiting period to buy firearms, and created a program allowing police to seize guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others. The legislation might have played a role in the significant decrease in gun violence in Florida over the past two years: In 2017, there were 4,178 gun-violence incidents with 955 deaths, according to the Gun Violencbe Archive. In 2019 so far, there have been 2,118 incidents and 639 deaths. There have been eight mass shootings in Florida so far this year, compared to 30 in 2018.
Valimont says Florida was chosen for the TV ad campaign because of its position as a potential leader in the movement for gun reform. The ads are paid for by the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, an organization started after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The tri-state advertising campaign targets Florida, Kentucky, and Colorado and will air on MSNBC's Morning Joe, CNN's New Day, and Fox News' Fox & Friends.
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"The NRA is weaker than they've ever been, and we're stronger than we've ever been," Valimont says. "Mass shootings and daily gun violence are wrecking this country, and we have to do something about it."
Valimont hopes Congress will take action on gun violence after the summer recess ends in two weeks.
"Florida has the opportunity to lead the nation in solving this problem, and it starts with our senators," she says.