Things That Matter

People Got To Confront Marco Rubio About Gun Laws At A Town Hall In Florida

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Floridians got a chance to speak with elected officials last night at a CNN hosted town hall about the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Jake Tapper moderated the town hall and audience members were able to ask questions directly to Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Bill Nelson, and National Rifle Association (NRA) spokeswoman Dana Loesch. Emotions ran high as survivors of the shooting and parents of teenagers killed in the attack put pressure on Sen. Rubio and Loesch about their desire for gun law reform. Here’s some of what went down.

Shooting survivor Cameron Kasky wanted to know if Sen. Marco Rubio would stop accepting NRA money.

Kasky asked: “So Senator Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future?”

“Number one, the positions I hold on these issues of the second amendment I’ve held since the day entered office in the city of West Miami as an elected official,” Sen. Rubio told Kasky. “Number two, no. The answer to the question is that people buy into my agenda. And I do support the Second Amendment. And I also support the right of you and everyone here to be able to go to school and be safe.And I do support any law that would keep guns out of the hands of a deranged killer. And that’s why I support the things that I have stood for and fought for during my time here.”

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the shooting, confronted the senator about his stance on gun control.

“Senator Rubio, I just listened to your opening and thank you. I want to like you. Here’s the problem. And, I’m a brutally honest person, so I’m just going to say it up front,” Guttenberg told Sen. Rubio at the town hall. “When I like you, you know it and when I’m pissed at you, you know it. Your comments this week, and those of our president, have been pathetically weak. So, you and I are now eye to eye. Because I want to like you. Look at me and tell me guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school this week. And, look at me and tell me you accept it, and you will work with us to do something about guns.”

“I’m saying that the problems that we’re facing here today cannot be solved by gun laws alone,” Sen. Rubio told Guttenberg. “And I’m going to tell you what we’ve done already and what I hope we’ll do moving forward.”

Guttenberg pressed for him to acknowledge the use of guns to “hunt” the teenagers at the school and Sen. Rubio did. However, when asked about whether or not he would support legislation to limit access to such guns, Sen. Rubio aired on the side of not restricting access to all assault weapons.

“So let me be honest with you about that one. If I believe that that law would have prevented this from happening I would support it. But I want to explain to you why it would not,” Sen. Rubio told Guttenberg. He added: “I do believe what you’re saying is true. I believe that someone like this individual and anyone like him shouldn’t have any gun. Not this gun, any gun. But I want to explain to you for a moment the problem with the law that they call the Assault Weapon’s Ban. And if you’ll indulge me for a minute to explain to you the problem. First you have to define what it is. If you look at the law and it’s definition, it basically bans 200 models of gun, about 220 specific models of gun.”

The crowd interrupted with applause as Guttenberg vocalized his desire to see those exact changes happen. Guttenberg asked Sen. Rubio if he was planning to support a law that would get the first 200 guns banned then work up to the full list of assault weapons. Sen. Rubio then pointed to similar gun laws in New York and California claiming they have done nothing to stop the sale and use of these weapons and spoke about how people have found their ways around the laws.

Emma Gonzalez, the young woman who has sparked the movement, was on the stage and asked NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch her own questions.

“The shooter at our school obtained weapons that he used on us legally,” Gonzalez started. “Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain the semi-automatic weapons and the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic like bump stocks?”

Loesch answered Gonzalez’ question by discussing the mental state of the shooter and her position that people with that mentality should not have access to guns. Yet, Gonzalez was not satisfied with the answer she was giving.

“I think I’m gonna interrupt you real quick and remind you that the question is actually,” Gonzales interjected. “Do you believe it should be harder to obtain these semi-automatic weapons and modifications to make them fully automatic, such as bump stocks?”

“I’m talking for them [the NRA]. These are the 5 million members that I’m here representing,” Loesch said. “That is what that group’s position has been on that. So, that answers your question, and they spoke about that before the president made a move and they spoke about that before Attorney General Jeff Sessions made an announcement about that, too.”

Twitter continued the conversation on social media using #StudentsStandUp.

The students of the Parkland shooting have started a movement to call on politicians to create better gun laws that protect civilians called Never Again.

People are praising the efforts of the teenagers to exact change since the deadly shooting.

People were also giving Sen. Rubio credit for getting out there and facing the children and parents impacted by the shooting.

And many people who watched the town hall felt hopeful about the future.


READ: This Teenager Was Shot 5 Times During The Florida School Shooting While Protecting A Room Full Of People

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Two Pulse Survivors Are Spreading The Message That You Can Pray The Gay Away With A Freedom March Near The Club

Culture

Two Pulse Survivors Are Spreading The Message That You Can Pray The Gay Away With A Freedom March Near The Club

_alivingwitness / Instagram

On June 12, 2016, an armed man entered Pulse Nightclub and opened fire. Forty-nine people died that night as a result and 53 were injured. The shooting was the most deadly shooting at the time. Now, two survivors are claiming they are no longer gay after finding Christ and are marching in the name of conversion five minutes away from the deadly attack.

Angel Colon and Luis Javier Ruiz survived the Pulse Nightclub massacre and have since claimed they are no longer gay men.

Credit: @fearlessidentity / Instagram

In the aftermath of the shooting, Colon and Ruiz have created an organization to promote the debunked and dangerous theory that homosexuality is something that can be changed. It has been scientifically proven that sexual orientation and gender identity cannot be changed at will. There have recently been high-profile examples of former conversion therapy advocates coming out as gay and rejecting the mentality that it is something that can be “fixed.”

As part of their ministry, Colon and Ruiz are hosting a “Freedom March” on Sept. 14 in Orlando five minutes from the remains of the Pulse Nightclub.

Credit: @BillyCorben / Twitter

Ruiz and Colon told NBC News that their mission is not to forcibly change anyone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“We’re trying to equip churches, even if they’re not gay-affirming churches, with the resources they need and teach them not to judge the LGBTQ community,” Colon explained to NBC News. “We’re trying to share our stories through ministry and share the testimonies of people who’ve come out of the homosexual lifestyle.”

The march has been received with mixed reviews with many in the LGBTQ+ community seeing the march as an attack on the community.

Credit: @jota_sexteam / Twitter

There is also a sentiment that the march is an insult to the memories of those who died that night simply for being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

“While we honor the freedom for expressions of faith, and hold the beauty of religiosity in our community, we cannot condone the gross misuse of religious text and faith to exploit LGBTQ+ people or support conversion therapy,” Christopher Cuevas, the executive director of QLatinx, wrote in an email to NBC News. “The expressions of our queer and transgender identities are the embodiment of divinity and grace, because we are living our most radical truth by celebrating and centering our LGBTQ+ identity.”

Ruiz has suggested that people can choose their sexuality and their path.

However, what Ruiz fails to understand is that scientific studies are proving more and more that is it the genetic makeup and brain chemistry that dictate a person’s sexual orientation. Studies have proved that people have not better of a chance to change their sexual orientation than they do their hair or eye color.

LGBTQ+-friendly religious organizations have reached out to Orlando asking for help stopping the march.

Credit: @qchristianorg / Twitter

“The Freedom March describes their movement as ‘former homosexuals and transgenders sharing our testimonies and celebrating our freedom.’ At Q Christian Fellowship, our members have far too much experience with the damage that can be done by organizations promoting ‘ex-gay’ ideologies and conversion therapies premised on the false and dangerous claim that people must be ‘delivered from LGBTQ+ lifestyles,'” reads the open letter. “You should be aware that The Freedom March possesses significant organizational overlap with anti-LGBTQ+ groups such as Equipped to Love, the Changed Movement, and Moral Revolution, which describes itself as ‘a company of radicals helping to define a healthy sexuality’ in a ‘generation overwhelmed by conflicting messages about love, lust, and relationships.'”

But, some LGBTQ+ community members are spreading the message of love being the most powerful weapon against this anti-LGBTQ+ movement.

Credit: @emilyjoypoetry / Twitter

Love is one of the most powerful tools in anyone’s arsenal. In the face of a march trying to tell young LGBTQ+ people that they can change, it is important that people raise their voices in love and support. Being LGBTQ+ is okay and natural.

READ: He Survived The Shooting In Orlando And He Is Now Telling His Story

The Parkland Mass Shooting Survivors Unveil A Gun Control Plan — Since The Administration Won’t Do It

Things That Matter

The Parkland Mass Shooting Survivors Unveil A Gun Control Plan — Since The Administration Won’t Do It

We don’t need to see another mass shooting dominate the news cycle to know that America needs gun reform now. But despite a series of mass shootings in the United States in recent years — and two in the past couple of weeks — elected officials and the administration still aren’t in any rush to reform our gun laws and policies in America. 

Instead, students who have survived mass shootings in their lifetime are the ones taking charge and fighting for gun control in our country. 

On Wednesday, August 21, the students who survived a mass shooting last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida have unveiled an ambitious gun-control proposal called “A Peace Plan for a Safer America.”

Yesterday after announcing their gun-control proposal, March For Our Lives — a platform and organization focused on voter registration and outreach across the U.S. — tweeted that “gun violence is intersectional. It feeds off of poverty, injustice, and despair. So that means that our plans — to be truly comprehensive — need to be intersectional too.” 

Their gun-control proposal was exclusively obtained by The Washington Post and the publication reports that the plan goes beyond the current discussion surrounding background checks for those who want to buy or own a gun and “red flag” laws, which applies to people who could be a danger to themselves and others if in ownership of a gun. 

According to the Washington Post, Parkland’s gun-proposal plan aims to create a “national licensing and gun registry, long a nonstarter with gun rights advocates; ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; implement a mandatory gun buyback program; and install a ‘national director of gun violence protection’ who would report directly to the president and coordinate the federal response to what advocates call a national public health emergency.” 

The Parkland students and survivors also unveiled this gun control plan ahead of the 2020 presidential race accordingly. 

They’re looking to shape the presidential race and influence the candidates (including Donald Trump) to consider their proposed gun laws and enforcement.

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate running for president in 2020 from El Paso, Texas has been open about gun-control and reform in American even more so after the El Paso and Dayton Ohio mass shootings that occurred earlier this month. Further, he made gun control a focus of his campaign now that he’s back on the campaign trail. 

He has also already spoken out in support of the Peace Plan. In a tweet, he encouraged people to follow the lead of the Parkland students marching for their lives and for the lives of everybody else in order to “end this epidemic.” He concluded his tweet of support by calling on everyone in the presidential race — and the country — to do the same and support their plan. 

Further, the “Peace Plan for a Safer America” will work to dramatically increase restrictions around owning guns — for example, the plan proposes that we raise the age from 21 to 18 for those who want to buy and own guns. It also wants to implement a “multi-step” gun licensing system to be overseen by a federal agency. This gun licensing system would include in-person interviews and a 10-day wait before an individual of age 21 or older are allowed to make a gun purchase. According to The Washington Post, the license would be renewed annually. 

The plan is being referred to as the “Green New Deal”  of guns, taking a “holistic approach” to gun violence in America. The plan is also proposing community-based solutions to gun violence including mental health services. 

Here’s a breakdown of what “A Peace Plan for a Safer America” entails:

1. Change the standards of gun ownership:

By changing the standards of gun ownership, the Peace Plan aims to advocate and pass legislation to raise the national standard for gun ownership. This is where the national licensing and registry will come into play. It also includes their proposed national gun buy-back program to reduce the millions of firearms that are in circulation by at least 30%. 

2. Halve the rate of gun deaths in 10 years: 

The Peace Plan has set an ambitious goal to reduce gun injuries and deaths by 50% in 10 years. This would amount to saving the lives of up to 200,000 Americans.  

3. Accountability for the gun lobby and industry:

In its third step, the Peace Plan will hold the gun lobby and industry accountable for decades of “illegal behavior” and dangerous policies that have not worked to protect the American people. 

4. Name a director of gun violence prevention:

The Peace Plan proposes the appointment of a National Director of Gun Violence who will report directly to the President. The National Director of Gun Violence would oversee a down payment of $250 million in annual funding for research by the CDC and other federal agencies on gun violence prevention. 

5. Generate community-based solutions:

The plan would also fully fund targeted community-based solutions addressing the intersectional dimensions of gun violence. These interventions would include urban violence reduction programs, suicide prevention programs, domestic violence prevention programs, and other mental health services. 

6. Empower the next generation.

Lastly, the Peace Plan aims to mobilize young registered voters. The plan would automatically register eligible voters and mail voter registration to all Americans when they turn 18. 

In a statement to CBS News, co-founder of March For Our Lives and Parkland shooting survivor, David Hogg told the publication that “for too long we have looked to elected officials to solve America’s gun violence crisis and time and time again, they have fallen to the pressure of NRA donations and the status quo.” 

Enough is enough, he continued, elected officials have failed to do their job and protect the lives of Americans across the country and it has led to deadly consequences. 

“It is clear that the time for thoughts and prayers has come and gone,” Hogg added. “It is now time for real change and real action.” 

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