Ryan Petty has had enough. For four years, the father of Alaina Petty, who was murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has been pretty quiet when it comes to the anti-gun groups who’ve tried to use the horrific events of February 14th, 2018 to not only push for new gun control laws, but to raise money off of that tragedy. Now, however, Petty says he’s through holding his tongue, and he joins me on today’s Cam & Co to discuss his recent call-out of gun control activist David Hogg, who claimed that after Parkland he and others “worked with” Republican lawmakers in Florida to get “gun safety past” (apparently a Harvard education only goes so far).
This is absolute revisionist history and quite frankly, BS. You did nothing but make it more difficult for us to get the MSD bill passed in the Florida Legislature. It's time to sit down, you charlatan.
— Ryan Petty (@rpetty) May 30, 2022
Petty says that, far from being helpful, Hogg and other gun control activists were more hinderance than help, in large part because they were solely focused on imposing new gun control laws like a ban on so-called assault weapons. While Florida lawmakers did end up imposing two new gun control laws in the wake of Parkland (a ban on sales of semi-automatic long guns to those under the age of 21 and a “red flag” gun seizure law), Petty says that the effective legislation produced after Parkland focused on school security.
Ryan Petty knows firsthand the horrors and unspeakable pain of losing a child in a school shooting, but he has tried to channel that grief into doing things that can truly make a difference. He’s now on the Florida State Board of Education, has gone through the state’s school guardian program that has placed trained and armed personnel on school campuses throughout Florida, and created the WalkUp Foundation, whose mission is to “improve the safety and security of our nation’s schools through evidence based prevention programs,” without trying to criminalize lawful gun owners.
Petty, who recently became an FFL himself, told me that he’s concerned that Congress is looking solely at gun control as a response to the shooting in Uvalde while ignoring legislation that could have an immediate and positive impact on school and student safety.
“What I’ve told a couple of senators privately is first of all ‘Do not cave in.’ The unintended consequences of ‘doing something’ are often worse than just doing nothing, quite frankly, and so I’ve urged them to do nothing at this point, because there aren’t any proposals on the table that would matter, in my mind.
Now, there are things they could be doing. There’s an act that’s been sitting there since Parkland called the EAGLES Act. That expands the funding for the National Threat Assessment Center at the Secret Service, who studies these attacks, publishes fantastic research, and trains school districts and law enforcement for free on how to identify threats and what to do about those. That would be incredibly helpful because imagine if the Uvalde school district had understood and taken action on the threats that this killer had made previously that we’re just learning about.
If they’d taken those seriously and done something about them this tragedy might have been prevented even before he got to the unlocked school door.”
Petty says he went to Capitol Hill to lobby for the bill, which was proposed by Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa shortly after Parkland, but the bill has gone nowhere because, in Petty’s view, it’s “not popular with one side of the aisle.”
“They only want to pass gun control, so they won’t consider a bill that would actually improve school safety until they get what they want: universal background checks or an ‘assault weapons’ ban.”
It’s politics over policy, and with Democrats intent on making gun control a key issue in this year’s midterms Petty doesn’t see much of a chance for the EAGLES Act getting a hearing in the Democratic-controlled House or Senate. Certainly everything we’ve seen discussed publicly after Uvalde has centered around firearms; from expanding background checks (which Petty says is a non-issue given that virtually every targeted attack on a school over the past 20 years was committed by someone who either obtained their guns legally or stole them from someone who legally purchased one) to banning the sale of “assault weapons” to adults younger than 21 and giving grants to states that adopt “red flag” laws. It’s gun control they want, and improving school security or identifying and treating those who need help before they take out their rage on innocents doesn’t mesh with their agenda, even if it would do much more to save lives and prevent other parents from having to experience the pain and heartache that Ryan Petty knows all too well.