A rarity for the NRA: Defeat

This editorial appeared in the Washington Post.

It is now beyond doubt: The fearless student survivors of the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting are changing the debate about gun control. Proof lies in the Florida legislature's vote for new firearms regulations and other gun-violence prevention measures.

The students didn't get everything they wanted in Tallahassee, and clearly more changes are needed. But their victory over the National Rifle Association in a state that has long done the gun-rights group's bidding was nothing short of stunning. Hopefully it will embolden efforts in other states — not to mention in Congress — for stricter gun-control laws that will help protect public safety.

Less than a month after the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gave rise to the powerful student movement, Florida lawmakers Wednesday approved the first gun-control measures to pass in the state in more than 20 years.

Among the new restrictions: raising the legal age to purchase all firearms to 21, banning bump stocks, closing a loophole that allowed gun purchases without completed background checks and establishing a "red-flag" process to remove guns from those seen as a danger. The Legislature sent the bill to Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the measure into law on Friday afternoon.

For decades, Florida lawmakers have been under the unhealthy sway of the gun lobby. Some of the most extreme gun-rights laws in the country, including the first "stand your ground" law and a measure (later ruled unconstitutional) that barred doctors from asking their patients about gun ownership, were rubber-stamped by the legislature. Any bill that appeared to hinder gun owners never came up for a vote.

So, as John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, observed, breaking the NRA's stranglehold while the whole nation was watching is "a big deal."

Given Florida's sorry history and Republican control of the legislature, it is not surprising - albeit still disappointing - that lawmakers were unwilling to meet some of the bolder demands of the Parkland students, including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. These are battles still to be waged.

Good, then, that the students have also become involved in voter-registration drives and are focused on the need to elect lawmakers, state and national, who are willing to represent the public interest and not that of the NRA lobbyists who fund their campaigns.


The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.


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