The deadliest shooting of 2018 so far took place yesterday, February 14th, in Parkland, Florida. After 17 people were killed and 23 injured in the tragedy, the public reacted with horror, outrage, and sorrow, including politicians. But some Twitter users called out pro-NRA politicians who offered their “thoughts and prayers,” and argued that their support of the lobbying group had enabled gun violence.
Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, offered his “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families. Republican Senator Marco Rubio described the massacre as a tragedy that “you pray never comes.” But both of these politicians have long histories of supporting the NRA. During a presidential primary debate in 2015, Rubio called strict gun laws “ineffective,” saying that they would “infringe on the rights of law-abiding people and do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”
Scott, who has an A+ rating from the NRA’s Political Victory Fund, brushed aside questions about policy change in the wake of the shooting, saying that “there’s a time” to discuss mental health care and gun control.
Twitter users were quick to point out the hypocrisy of politicians like Scott and Rubio.
According to Politico, Republicans in Congress received almost $6 million in donations from the NRA during the 2016 election cycle, while Congressional Democrats netted $106,000 from the gun advocacy group. As more politicians tweeted their condolences, Twitter users continued to call out the NRA’s biggest supporters.
President Donald Trump has also received money from the NRA. According to The Hill, the president received $31.2 million from the organization to help fund his presidential campaign. Like other pro-NRA politicians, the president offered prayers to those affected by the Parkland shooting, but failed to mention guns, in any way, shape, or form, in his statement.
Many argued that Trump needed to address gun laws.
In the wake of any tragedy, mourning for the victims and their families is a natural response. But school shootings are an epidemic in the United States — in 2018 alone, there have been 18 school shootings. The Florida school shooter was able to legally purchase the AR-15 rifle he used to carry out the massacre. To end gun violence, we need to start by addressing gun laws that embolden people to be violent.