Screengrab via MSNBC
It’s a question that’s as simple as it is necessary: To what depth is the National Rifle Association in the pockets of elected officials in Florida?
Tragedy struck in South Florida on Wednesday, Feb. 14. As worn as the phrase feels as is, on what should have been a day of heartthrobs and hormones for the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in suburban Parkland, we witnessed the unfolding of a Valentine’s Day massacre. The result so far: 17 students and teachers are dead and more than a dozen others have sustained serious injuries. Adding to the tragedy as it stands, reports have suggested that the death toll is still liable to rise
Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old lunatic at the heart of our nation’s latest sobering day-after, was armed with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle and a surplus of extra ammunition when he opened fire around 2:40 p.m, just prior to the day’s final bell. In apparent preparation, Cruz, who had previously been expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons, wore a gas mask, had smoke grenades and set off the fire alarm so that the students would scamper out of their classrooms and into his line of fire.
Earlier today, Cruz was charged with 18 counts of premeditated murder.
To call him a “troubled kid
,” as some folks have done, would be a gross understatement. Before yesterday's incident, Cruz's behavior struck teachers and administrators with enough curious skepticism that he'd been banned from even carrying a backpack into the school.
Though it was seemingly a well-known fact that Cruz was disturbed, he had bought the AR-15 legally
, and had reportedly been allowed by his mother to keep the military-style weapon in a locked safe.
“It was his gun,” the Cruz’s family lawyer, Jim Lewis, told the New York Daily News
. “The family made him keep it in a locked gun cabinet in the house, but he had a key.”
So how does someone like him get his hands on a gun?
The answer’s simple: He’s legally permitted to do so. (In Florida
, it's actually easier to buy an military-style weapon than it is to buy a handgun.)
The problem beyond that: Lawmakers continue to let it happen.
Why? Look no further than the financial incentive
, as provided by the NRA. Here's how much, and to whom, the NRA donated to elected officials in Florida during the 2016 election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org
— Sen. Marco Rubio
: $9,900 (A worthy note: Throughout Rubio's career as an elected official, he's received more than $3.3 million
from the NRA and pro-gun groups, according to an analysis conducted by the New York Times
— Rep. Brian Mast
, R-Palm City: $4,950.
— Rep. Carlos Curbelo
, R-Kendall: $2,500.
— Rep. Gus Bilirakis
, R-Tarpon Springs: $2,000.
— Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart
, R-Miami: $2,000.
— Rep. Bill Posey
, R-Rockledge: $2,000.
— Rep. Dennis Ross
, R-Lakeland: $2,000.
— Rep. Neal Dunn
, R-Panama City: $1,750.
— Rep. Ron DeSantis
, R-Palm Coast: $1,000.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz
, R-Fort Walton: $1,000.
— Rep. Tom Rooney
, R-Okeechobee: $1,000.
— Rep. John Rutherford
, R-Jacksonville: $1,000.
— Rep. Daniel Webster
, R-Minneola: $1,000.
— Rep. Ted Yoho
, R-Gainesville: $1,000.
Correction: A previous version of this story included incorrect data on donations contributed to Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Okeechobee.