The 2018 Midterm Elections are less than seven months away, and races are starting to heat up. Among the issues, voters are talking about gun control and the Second Amendment. After the Parkland, Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., and the push for gun control at both the state and federal level, it is expected that these issues would come up on the campaign trail for both political parties. On Monday morning, Florida Democratic candidate for governor, Gwen Graham, released her new ad calling for more gun control in the state.
— Gwen Graham (@GwenGraham) April 16, 2018
In the ad, Graham emotionally states:
What happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas is every parent’s worst nightmare. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to lose a child. My heart breaks as a mom. That’s how this issue resonates with me. Not as someone running for office, but as a mom that never wants any parent to have to face what those parents faced. Time after time after time we have done nothing in the face of these horrific tragedies.
Seconds later, Graham goes on to blame the gun lobby and Republicans for inaction. Some may even feel that Graham’s statement blames the gun lobby and Republicans for the shooting.
Despite Graham’s claim, however, Florida’s legislature and governor have done “something” in an attempt to prevent gun violence and further mass shootings. Albeit, Second Amendment supporters do not endorse the measures and believe the new laws infringe on their Second Amendment right more so than prevent further violence.
Graham knows that Republicans in Florida’s House and Senate passed bills raising the legal age required to purchase a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21, banned bump stocks, implemented extreme risk protection orders, and instilled a longer waiting period for gun purchases. She also knows that Governor Rick Scott signed them into law. It’s undeniable that Republicans have taken some action, but it’s, unsurprisingly, not enough to satisfy her.
According to reporting from the Orlando Sentinel, Graham, who received an endorsement from Moms Demand Action and its founder Shannon Watts, will not be satisfied until she gets what every gun control activist out there wants.
Graham has also been endorsed as a “Gun Sense Candidate” by the gun safety group Moms Demand Action earlier this month. If elected governor, she’s pledged to “suspend AR-15 sales, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and strengthen the background check system so that it is truly effective and universal,” her campaign said in a statement.
As a congresswoman, Graham voted to regulate armor-piercing ammunition and she cosponsored a bill to require background checks and close the loophole allowing suspected terrorists on the no-fly list to buy weapons.
Though Graham is spending time focusing on gun control, the Orlando Sentinel points out that her political opponents are questioning her authenticity, saying that during the one year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting Graham was not calling for gun bans.
But two of her opponents in the August Democratic primary, Winter Park businessman Chris King and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, have often criticized Graham for what Gillum’s campaign called an “election-year conversion” on guns.
Graham did not originally call for an assault weapons ban in her gun safety proposal announced after the Pulse anniversary in 2017, when Gillum’s team highlighted Graham’s 2014 statement to NewsChannel 7-WJHG – while running in a more conservative Panhandle district – that “I certainly support the second amendment and I don’t think that any law-abiding citizen should have any gun that they choose to have taken away from them.”
That’s quite the contradiction, and it cuts against Graham’s argument that her position on guns isn’t political. While her emotional reaction to the Parkland shooting is undoubtedly genuine, her solution to prevent these mass shootings, as mentioned by the Mayor of Tallahassee, may not be.
Floridians who support gun control will surely be watching this election closely, and Second Amendment supporters unhappy with Governor Scott’s decision to sign more gun control bills will undoubtedly look for a Republican candidate that will protect their Second Amendment rights.