from the editor

Circle JERK

Florida lawmakers more concerned with peeps whacking than packing

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On what planet is Debbie Does Duval more dangerous than an AR-15?

Well, this one, apparently. At least that’s the message the Florida House telegraphed to the world last week when it declined to even debate an assault weapons ban … on the same day it voted in favor of a resolution recognizing the “public health risk” posed by pornography. Subsequently, straight and comedic news outlets alike lobbed jokes and criticisms at the dimwits who didn’t have the presence of mind to delay the vote on the laughable porn resolution to literally any other day.

Of course, if you’ve been in Northeast Florida for at least five minutes, you know what’s coming next: The anti-porn resolution was co-sponsored by one of our very own, Republican Clay Yarborough, whose previous forays into protecting the civic virtue include threatening to defund MOCA Jacksonville for displaying a picture of a woman’s boobies. (If you’ve ever wondered why our little corner of Florida is the laughingstock of the state, that’s it.)

I have no doubt that Yarborough means well and that he is truly convinced of the dangers of pornography. Though I’d be willing to bet he thoroughly enjoyed the research for this resolution. I also have no doubt that if a time machine were available to whisk him to the 1950s, in mere minutes he’d be slicking his hair back with Brylcreem (a little dab-a-do-ya) and doing the jitterbug, mindful to always, always leave room for Jesus between him and his partner.

Here in 2018, however, watching porn is as easy as Googling “watch porn,” or, as I accidentally learned the hard way in a dull moment at a public meeting recently, logging onto Twitter. Thank god no one goes to the Planning Commission anymore. If you ask Yarborough, they’re probably all home watching porn.

Back to the matter at hand: Before they recognized the grave threat posed by Pornhub, the Florida House—including local representatives Cord Byrd, Jason Fischer, Cyndi Stevenson, Paul Renner, Jay Fant and Yarborough (all Republicans)—once again bowed to their NRA overlords and essentially spit on the graves of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting by refusing to have a conversation about banning assault weapons while being stared down by grieving, outraged teens who’d lost friends, teachers, a coach and their innocence to an AR-15 assault rifle less than a week before.

Since then, boneheads such as the president, House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Lutz), and the Florida House Appropriations Committee have doubled down on the stupidity and proposed deputizing teachers and allowing them to pack heat in their lunchboxes to deter school shootings. I guess they think teachers should literally and figuratively have kids’ lives in their hands.

But let’s be real: Arming teachers won’t stop school shootings, it will cause them. It could be when a kid accidentally or intentionally gets hold of an unsecured weapon, or a teacher feels threatened, or a teacher just loses it, but there will be blood, kids’ blood, if we fill schools with guns. What will we do then? More guns in schools seems to be the preferred response. A rifle for every teachers’ aide! Handguns for cafeteria workers! Armed guards in every classroom! And bulletproof vests as a mandatory part of the school uniform.

Honestly, it doesn’t make a lick of sense that teachers, who aren’t even allowed to spank their students in most Florida counties—yes, the state does still allow corporal punishment in schools—should essentially be given license to shoot their students.

Further, if a teacher is armed, how are they to decide whether deadly force is justified? If history is any indicator, arming teachers will lead to disproportionate numbers of black boys leaving school in body bags. Lest we forget, when Duval finally got around to banning corporal punishment in schools 13 years ago, it was right around the same time the Florida Times-Union reported nearly 80 percent of kids getting paddled in the district were black.

These uncomfortable and inconvenient facts are not likely to sway the Republican/NRA-controlled Florida legislature, not as long as they believe their political survival depends on doing whatever the gun lobby demands. But the days of the NRA controlling our government with campaign donations may be waning. For even as some of our lawmakers refuse to talk about gun control, record numbers of Americans are rallying behind the brave students from Stoneman Douglas who are standing up to the bully pulpit and insisting on common sense reforms. A Feb. 20 Quinnipiac University Poll found that two out of three Americans support an outright ban on the sale of assault rifles; more than four out of five support mandatory waiting periods for weapons purchases; and support for universal background checks, even among gun owners like me, was almost universal.

The poll did not inquire about the dangers of porn.

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