This state has ruled that porn is a public health crisis, but not assault rifles

This state has ruled that porn is a public health crisis, but not assault rifles

On February 14, 2018, a mass shooting was perpetrated at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. At 2.19pm, 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz arrived on campus and proceeded to enter a school building. He activated the fire alarm, and when staff and students exited their classrooms, Cruz opened fire on the crowd. A total of 17 people perished as a result of the massacre.

Sadly, spree killings appear to be routine in the United States, where the Second Amendment guarantees easy access to firearms. Just think of all the lives lost as a result of prior mass shootings, such as the Virginia Tech Massacre, the Columbine High School Shooting, or more recently, the Orlando Shooting and Las Vegas Mandalay Bay spree.

Every time a national tragedy on this scale occurs, legislators attempt to influence gun policy, only to be shouted down by lobbyists from the NRA and other pro-gun groups. However, it appears as though Stoneman Douglas could be the last straw, and many Americans are now questioning whether or not they can live in a society that allows such easy access to guns.

So, what has the government's response been in Florida, the very same state where the incident occurred, and the eye of this storm of controversy and argument? Well, as a matter of fact, they have made certain changes to state laws, but for many, these changes simply aren't radical enough. As if to add further salt to the wounds of the members of the Never Again MSD activist movement, Florida's House of Representatives last month ruled that pornography constituted a public health hazard but did not agree to the same thing on the issue of assault rifles.
The house opened its February session with a motion to debate the merits of a potential bill that would ban the sale and ownership of assault rifles. After a mere three minute discussion, this motion was rejected by a 36-71 vote by the Republican majority. However, less than an hour later, the house considered a GOP-backed bill which would declare pornography to be a public health risk. This vote passed successfully. The irony was not lost on anti-gun activists.

Ross Spano, a Republican representative (who is also a potential candidate for attorney general), made the claim before the house that scientific research had discovered a clear correlation between the use of pornography and mental and physical illnesses, and also claimed that additional research had concluded that porn consumption led to issues of intimacy, performance anxiety, deviant sexual behavior and sex crimes.

An image of a tactical assault rifle. Credit: Getty

However, that's not to say that this move didn't come with due criticism. State representative Carlos Guillermo Smith claimed in an interview with the Associated Press that "[Spano] was saying porn as a health risk was more important to address here in the Florida Legislature than the epidemic of gun violence," Smith told the AP: "These are their priorities. I don't understand the politics, to be honest, if I'm being honest. I'm not aware there's a base of voters who are losing sleep every night over the epidemic of pornography as a public health crisis."

Florida has also taken some additional steps toward curtailing reckless gun ownership. In March 2018, the same legislature that declared pornography to be a danger to the public also passed a bill called "The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act", which raised the minimum age for the purchase of a firearm to 21, and also established waiting periods and background checks. The Stoneman Douglas act will also seek to hire a police force for schools and could possibly mean that certain teachers will be permitted to be armed in future. The act also outlaws bump stocks, and prohibits those arrested under certain laws from possessing guns.

Governor Rick Scott, who signed on March 9, commented: "The hardest thing I've ever had to do as governor is try to find the words to console a parent who has lost their child. There are just no words. I still think law enforcement officers should be the ones who protect our schools. I've heard all the arguments for teachers to be armed and, while this bill would significantly change on this topic, I'm still not persuaded. I'm glad, however, the plan is not mandatory, which means it be up to local elected officials... To the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, you made your voices heard. You didn't let up and you fought until there was change."

It is clear that the survivors of these incidents are not prepared to back down, and neither are their supporters. On March 24, 1.2 to 2 million people in the United States participated in the March for Our Lives protests against current gun ownership laws, making it one of the largest protests in American history, and recently lead activist and survivor Emma Gonzalez appeared in a fake photograph which had been doctored to show her tearing up the constitution.