On today's BradCast: Our coverage continues of Wednesday's bloodbath at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 were killed and 13 remain hospitalized today, following the nation's most deadly school shooting since Newton, Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
We have many more new details today about the alleged shooter, a 19-year old former student who is said to have legally purchased the semi-automatic AR-15 military-style assault weapon and arsenal of ammo and magazines to go with it. (A photo of his collection, reportedly from one of his Instagram pages, is above.) State law enforcement officials reportedly say, late today, that the previously expelled and recently orphaned student, Nikolas Cruz, has now confessed to the mass shooting.
The predictable fight between gun safety proponents and those opposed to any such measures got underway in full today, as Republicans from President Donald Trump to Florida Gov. Rick Scott to U.S. Senator Marco Rubio went out of their way to avoid discussion of guns and deflect from the need to take action on the nation's continuing gun violence epidemic. They chose instead to declare the need for mental health reform as the only way to prevent the "true evil" behind such massacres, while spreading some of the blame to victims who, they claim, failed to alert authorities to earlier concerns about the shooter.
That charge, as we discuss, appears disingenuous at best, even as news breaks today that Cruz appears to have been associated with and/or trained by a white supremacist organization in the Sunshine State. (Over the past year, Trump has both signed legislation to make it easier for the mentally ill to purchase weapons like the one used in Parkland, Florida, and has cut funding to research and combat of domestic white supremacist violence.)
By way of contrast to the uniform GOP denial and misdirection, Broward County School District Superintendent Robert Runcie offered a plea on behalf of Stoneman Douglas High School students who are demanding real action in response to gun violence in the wake of their Valentine's Day nightmare. "I hope we can get it done in this generation," he said at a news conference today, flanked by two of the National Rifle Association's top benefactors in Florida, Gov. Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi. "But if we don't, they will," he vowed.
We're joined to discuss all of the above, including the stranglehold that the terror-enabling NRA continues to have over Republicans from D.C. all the way to state and local governments, by WENDY WHEATCROFT, Group Leader of the San Diego Chapter of Moms Demand Action on Gun Sense. Wheatcroft, a former elementary school teacher, explains that she has lived through active shooter lockdowns herself, and charges that "the NRA has been infiltrating local government for years. Not just local government offices, but school boards, water boards, every lower level of government. They have been infiltrating and pushing out these talking points."
She details her own group's efforts to enact common sense gun reform, such as "red flag" laws that were adopted in California, to enable "family members or police to remove weapons from someone they deem to be a threat to themselves or others."
"There is no such thing as 'too soon' to talk about gun violence," Wheatcroft argues. "These shootings are compounding, one upon the other upon the other, so when is the time? It's too late for those families --- it's too late for those moms whose kids did not come home from school on Valentine's Day. Can you imagine?," she asks tearfully.
She also speaks to how gun safety proponents can take on the NRA (who "will say and do anything possible to sell their guns and make money"), and cites removing NRA-supported elected officials from office as the most effective weapon for doing that. "It's just so important for us, in every city, to buckle down locally and to make sure that we are supporting candidates who do not share this narrative and this message."
"Right now, our House is dominated by legislators who have been bought by the NRA," Wheatcroft says. "Gun Sense candidates aren't just Dems. It's not enough to just be a Dem anymore. We need people who are champions for gun violence prevention, and who will outspoken and unafraid to speak out and stand up to the NRA."
"We are not trying to take anyone's guns away. We are not here to ban the 2nd Amendment. We are here to help put in place gun safety measures that enable gun owners to maintain their rights, and to keep their guns, while also keeping people safe from guns."
Finally, we close today with a look back at how U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell led the successful 2013 GOP effort to block majority-supported passage of any and all bi-partisan gun safety legislation brought to the Senate floor for a vote, just months after the nation's deadliest school shooting in Newtown, CT...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)