NRA support for lawmakers becoming hot button issue

Protesters suggest boycott of spring break in Florida, ask for assault rifle ban

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The deaths of 17 people in South Florida and National Rifle Association support for state lawmakers is quickly becoming the hottest issue of the 2018 campaign season.

Some are also suggesting students stop coming to the Sunshine State for spring break.

An ad ran Sunday in the South Florida Sun Sentinel seeking to recruit candidates  to run against two dozen state lawmakers who have high marks from the NRA and have no opposition.

The ad was a surprise to Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen of Ft. Myers.

“We can never go far enough for some people and too far for others, so what I have to do is try and do what my constituents elected me to do, and that is represent them," Fitzenhagen said.

Freshman lawmaker Cord Byrd, whose district includes Nassau and Duval counties, is also on the list.

“They don’t give me marching orders," Rep. Byrd said. "They don’t tell me what to do. I follow the Constitution.”

Hundreds showed up Monday at a Senate Rules Committee, asking for a ban on assault rifles.

Like many, St. Petersburg pastor, the Rev. Andy Oliver, accused lawmakers of selling out to the NRA.

“Many of you have constantly and consistently scored an A with the NRA," Oliver said to a committee. "Sadly, after the shooting, you will get to continue to keep making your A, while sadly 17 students from Parkland won’t have the opportunity to make any more grades."

He was then asked to conclude his testimony.

“Even Scalia and his opinion in Heller knew the Second Amendment does not cover assault rifles," Oliver said. "So don’t be a coward and hide behind the Second Amendment and the NRA. The blood of these children and the one(s) coming after that is on your hands.”

News4Jax spoke to the targeted lawmakers as 900 more protested outside the Capitol.

In addition to chanting, “Vote them out,” there’s also a call for spring breakers to boycott Florida.

A Saturday tweet from a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivor who urged the spring break boycott has more than 59,000 likes and 23,000 retweets.

“If they don’t want to enjoy our beaches, OK," said Sen. Jeff Brandes, who chairs the Senate tourism appropriations committee.

After leading a gun control rally, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Phillip Levine said tourism has already taken a hit.

“Do you think 17 people being killed with an AR-15 in a high school is good for tourism?" Levine said. "Do we think the Pulse nightclub killing is good for tourism?”

The attention so far to electoral politics is almost sure to guarantee we’ll be hearing well into the fall about the failures that led to Nikolas Cruz allegedly slaughtering 17 people on Feb. 14.

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