Guns and gun safety continue to dominate this week, as the Florida legislature passed several gun-related measures. The provisions fall short of what newly-energized student activists wanted, but still represent a degree of victory for gun control advocates in a state that has seen few such “victories.”
Perhaps because of the momentum created by the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., political leaders elsewhere are becoming bolder in their demands and public statements. Case in point: Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy’s recent assertion that the NRA had “in essence become a terrorist organization.”
As one might imagine, the Democratic governor’s words did not go over well with the National Rifle Association.
NPR’s Michel Martin asked Gov. Malloy to elaborate on his remarks.
On preying on people’s fears
I said that the NRA acts like a terrorist organization. Webster’s defines a terrorist organization as one that uses fear to effect its goals. What organization in America has used fear better than the NRA?
This really is an organization that is devoid of courage when it comes to making our nation safer. Ninety-seven percent of Americans believe in universal background checks.
The only reason we don’t have them is the NRA, and the politicians they have purchased in Washington – including President Trump.
On tactics used by the NRA
The NRA is taking advantage of people’s deaths to make the case that we need more guns.
I’m not accusing them of pulling the trigger, but in some cases I think there is blood on their hands. Because they have fought against gun safety for so many years.
They have threatened boycotts against individuals who want to sell safe gun technology. You can say that that’s a fair thing to do. But when it blocks technology from being introduced in the United States that would prevent a 2-year-old from finding a gun in her mother’s purse and killing her, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
On “kindergarten cops”
In 1999, the NRA’s position was that guns didn’t belong in schools, certainly not in the possession of teachers. They’ve since changed their position. I believe they changed that position because they don’t want to have the real discussion about what would make Americans safer. Not selling guns of mass destruction would make Americans safer.
On Florida allowing certain school personnel to carry guns, and raising the minimum age for gun purchases
The idea that we’re going to ask kindergarten teachers to also be the police in a school doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. On the other hand, there are lots of things in the Florida bill – for example, raising the minimum age for purchasing any type of firearm from age 18 to age 21 – that do make sense.
Editor’s Note: On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) signed the $400 million gun control and school safety bill. In addition to the provisions mentioned above, the legislation imposes a three-day waiting period on gun purchases and bans bump stocks (devices that allow guns to fire faster). It also funds school police officers and mental health counselors, and makes it easier for law enforcement to commit someone who’s been deemed a threat.
NPR’s Elizabeth Wynne Johnson produced this story for the Web.