JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the nation grapples with the emotions following the school shooting – the issue is also taking center stage for politicians.
Republican Congressman John Rutherford and Democrat Al Lawson both issued statements Wednesday afternoon regarding the shooting.
Rutherford’s statement reads:
While Lawson’s reads:
“I am tired. Tired of the moments of silence that we must hold after senseless mass shootings involving our children and teachers.
“As elected officials, we must do better in protecting the American people. Responsible gun safety legislation is needed now, more than ever before.
“During my time in Congress, gun violence prevention measures would pass the House of Representatives and stall in the Senate. I am asking my Republican Senate colleagues, if not now, then when will they pass common sense gun safety legislation that protects our citizens? We are not hopeless. We have legislation ready to move forward to end gun violence and save lives in every community across the nation.
“There were 21 beautiful souls stolen yesterday. My deepest condolences go to the families who lost their loved ones. I am sending light and prayer to the Uvalde community.”U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL 5th District)
On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was asked about the shooting and issues involving gun control legislation and background checks. Rubio’s stance is not changing.
“There hasn’t been a single mass shooting from a gun sold on the Internet or gun show. if people want to deal with it we can have that debate but don’t link it to these horrible events because they have nothing to do with it,” Rubio said.
And Republican Sen. Rick Scott was asked about his thought on Florida’s Red Flag law that was passed after the Parkland school shooting four years ago. That law requires gun owners to turn over weapons if a judge determines they’re a risk to themselves or others.
Reporters asked Scott if there should be a National Red Flag law.
“I believe you’ve gotta have due process. You’ve got to be careful that you’re not taking away people’s Second Amendment rights. But if people are harming themselves, threatening to harm themselves or somebody else, they should not have access to a gun -- as long as you go through -- you use due process,” Scott said.
Gun control laws have already become a campaign issue in an upcoming congressional race for the new District 4 in Florida.
A political ad from Republican Jason Fischer is now airing. In it, he says liberals tried to take away gun rights and take over our streets, and he says “no” to gun control.
We tried reaching out to him Wednesday but did not hear back by publication of this article.
Some of his opponents are speaking out.
Democrat Tony Hill said a universal gun background check is needed and all states need Red Flag laws.
Hill said, “I will not be a slave or enslaved to the NRA to prevent common sense legislation.”
Republican Erick Aguilar, who is also running for the seat, said more information is needed before he commits.
“I want to see the investigation first. There should be nobody -- I should say in my opinion -- no politician should be making a decision just yet because of the fact that they really don’t know what’s happening,” Aguilar said.
Democratic Rep. Angie Nixon said, “As elected officials, we’re not doing our job.”
“We surely do need gun reform, right? But we also need to address these root causes — poverty, right? Like, lack of access to quality, affordable health care or to help with mental health services,” Nixon said. “You know, a lot of these kids, even here in Jacksonville, just thinking about us in Jacksonville and Duval County with these students, these babies killing one another, right? Like they’re dealing with trauma, like, they live in neighborhoods, and they are afflicted with trauma. And so, like, they don’t understand conflict resolution.”
Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp released a statement:
“Focusing on school safety and improving Georgia’s mental health system are two issues that we tackled immediately upon taking office in 2019. We want to reassure Georgia families today that we have worked closely with the General Assembly and state agencies to ensure our students and educators have secure learning environments.”
People who spoke with News4JAX on Wednesday agree that political leaders need to take action.
“We’ve all been through it and we’re tired of it. We’ve got to do something,” said Jacksonville resident Steven Mitchell.
Others agree that the responsibility falls into everyone’s hands.
“I think it’s with me, I think it’s with you. Everybody,” said Dennis McNeil, who was visiting Jacksonville. “It think we are all part of this collective. We all make these decisions, we all vote for the people in power and I think it’s everybody. It’s the guy walking down the street. We all are to blame.”
Salvador Ramos, 18, used an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, authorities said. They added he legally bought the rifle and a second one like it last week, just after his birthday on May 16.
“Evil swept across Uvalde yesterday. Anyone who shoots his grandmother in the face has to have evil in his heart,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said. “But it is far more evil for someone to gun down little kids.”
About a half-hour before the shooting, Ramos sent the first of three messages online, Abbott said. Ramos wrote that he was going to shoot his grandmother, then that he had shot the woman. In the last note, sent about 15 minutes before he reached Robb Elementary, he said he was going to shoot up an elementary school, according to Abbott. Investigators said Ramos did not specify which school.
Ramos sent private, one-to-one text messages via Facebook, and they were “discovered after the terrible tragedy,” company spokesman Andy Stone said. He said Facebook is cooperating with investigators.
On Tuesday morning, Ramos shot and wounded his grandmother at her home, then left. Neighbors called police when she staggered outside and they saw she had been shot in the face, Department of Public Safety spokesperson Travis Considine said.
Investigators said the shooter took her car and drove to Robb Elementary School.
Abbott said Ramos had no known criminal or mental health history.