After eight hours of debate in the Florida State Senate, the fate of a gun control and school security bill was still in doubt.
The Democrats rallied around gun control.
The Republicans rallied around school security.
What turned the tide was a letter from the families of the 17 people killed in the Parkland school shooting telling them to vote yes.
Telling them to do something, anything that might stop the madness.
The vote was 67-50 to raise the minimum age to purchase any firearm to 21, ban bump stocks, impose a three-day waiting period on gun purchases, give law enforcement more power to commit people deemed a threat, fund school police officers and mental health counselors and allow local school districts and sheriffs to arm certain school personnel.
It was a compromise that didn’t make either side of the political spectrum 100 percent happy, but something was done.
Sadly, that was not the case in New York’s Legislature this week, and without 17 grieving families looking over their shoulders, its gutless members chose politics over public safety and did nothing to make a difference.
They are an embarrassment.
While the Democratic-controlled Assembly was passing a series of gun control measures that further strengthened New York’s already strict gun control laws, including banning bump stocks, the Republican-controlled Senate was passing a series of bills focusing on school security, including a program that would allow “school resource officers” to carry a firearm.
Assembly leaders won’t support the Senate’s bills, and the Senate leaders won’t support the Assembly’s bills.
The positions are political.
They are intractable.
And worst of all, they are predictable.
It turns out this time wasn’t different after all — at least not in New York.
We’ve done the thoughts and prayers.
We’ve mourned the victims.
And we’ve listened to the teenagers on the front lines.
The Legislature is not ready to compromise, it is not ready to address the elephant rifle in the room, and it is ready to move on to the next issue without anyone taking a stand.
The most controversial debate last week was over a bill that would create a $25 license plate with the words “Guardians for Schools” to raise money for security.
If anything sends the message that the Legislature is incapable of dealing with an important issue seriously, it was the license plate debate.
I’ll bet the teenagers could do better.
They are our last hope for any proactive measures in our state. Students in several schools have announced they are planning a 17-minute walkout on Wednesday to bring attention to the issue of school safety.
There is a national march scheduled for March 24.
For a few days there, people listened to the students in Florida, staring down some of the most powerful politicians in the country with common sense suggestions.
Maybe our own legislators should do that.
I wonder if Sen. Betty Little and Sen. Kathy Marchione will be at any of the walkouts.
I wonder if Assemblyman Dan Stec or Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner will be there to hear the students.
And will they be willing to propose compromise measures that can pass both houses and become a law that will make a difference?
I think we all know the answer to that.
There isn’t a chance in hell.
Thoughts and prayers.