What happened when about a dozen Florida state senators supported a sweeping gun control bill? Simple, the people started letting them know how they felt about the vote by sending jars of tar and feathers to express their displeasure with the vote. However, that is not all that was sent.
“They are tiny jars full of feathers with poop emojis in them,” said state Senator René García, a Hialeah Republican who supported the bill. Sen. Garcia was the sponsor of the amendment that watered down the provision allowing school staff, including teachers, to be trained and armed. As if that was not bad not enough, Garcia’s amendment was the needed piece to pass the entire anti-gun bill out of the Senate by a slim 20-18 margin.
The word on the street in Tallahassee is that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is on the scene and ready to put pressure on the Republican-controlled Legislature that is working to quickly pass the gun reforms. However, the NRA’s top lobbyist in Florida, Marion Hammer, said the NRA was not behind the jars.
Another sponsor of the bill was incoming Republican Senate President Bill Galvano. Galvano was also treated to a jar full of tar and feathers. During an interview with POLITICO, Galvano stated that he did not know whom it was from. Galvano also admitted, several other Republicans received the jars of tar and feathers after the chamber passed the “gun-safety” bill.
“It is related,” said Galvano (R-Bradenton). “Several of us received a jar of tar and feathers in our offices as a message of opposition to the bill.”
Lest you think only Republicans were singled out for a good tar and feathering, Katie Betta, a spokesperson for Senate President Joe Negron, said about a dozen lawmakers had received similar jars, including Democrats José Javier Rodríguez and Gary Farmer, both of whom opposed the bill but have been vocally anti-NRA, and Lauren Book, a Democrat from Plantation, FL who voted for the bill.
Book told POLITICO, her staff saw a man with tattoos walk into her office and deliver the jar. The Sergeant at Arms then escorted him out of the building.
Book said her staff recalled the man saying, “There’s an award, for you violating the Second Amendment.” before leaving the premises.
The plan that passed the Senate earlier this month, FL SB7026 (18R), featured a provision to ban so-called bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to approach the firing rates of fully automatic arms. The bill will also increase the legal age to buy any firearm in Florida to a minimum of 21 years of age. The plan does allow some teachers to carry firearms—a measure supported by the NRA—but, as previously mentioned at the beginning of this story, the Garcia amendment significantly weakened that provision by prohibiting “classroom” teachers from carrying a firearm. You know, just about every teacher in a school… Worse yet, it makes it easy to identify which teachers may be armed and which one are definitely not.
Under SB7026 (18R), any teacher who only works in a classroom would not be eligible for the program. However, teachers who perform other duties, such as serving as a coach, as well as other school employees could participate. Exceptions would be made for teachers with law enforcement or military backgrounds, and teachers in a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program.
Unfortunately, passed the Florida House last week and now sits on Governor Rick Scott’s desk. Governor Scott has not stated whether or not he would sign it. If Governor Scott refuses, the House and Senate have not shown enough support to override a veto.
What do you think of the tar and feathers message? What do you think of the bill? Should teachers have the right to be armed in the classroom? Share your answers in the comment section.
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