Florida Students To Meet With State Sen. Rader About Gun Violence
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
A rite of passage for many American students is the school trip to Washington or to the state capital. Students from Parkland, Fla., made their trip to the state capital with much higher stakes.
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DEMITRI HOTH: We just really want the lawmakers to understand the type of thing that we went through, and I think that the way that we're going to do that is by showing them that we're a united front.
INSKEEP: Demitri Hoth spoke with CNN on the way to Tallahassee. The students from the school where a gunman killed 17 people last week will meet with state legislators from both parties, including Democratic state Senator Kevin Rader, who represents Parkland and is on the line.
Senator, good morning.
KEVIN RADER: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: Will you able to tell the students, yes, we will make changes?
RADER: I think - I'm fairly positive that we are going to have some changes in Tallahassee, no doubt about that.
INSKEEP: And how significant can they be? I know there's discussion of, for example, raising the minimum age for buying a long gun to 21 years old. That would apply to this situation since you had someone under 21 who bought a weapon legally. There's talk of stronger background checks. But how far can you go, realistically?
RADER: I think realistically that we will get a significant amount of money for mental health for - specifically, for children. I think we're going to have some money for school security - a much larger appropriation. I think we're going to have something with the Baker Act, which is holding someone for up to three days when it needs to happen. I think there's going be a - like you said, a raising age in assault weapons. I think there will be something with the background checks. And I think there's going to be a tearing down the building where the shooting actually occurred to have a memorial and to build an additional building. No...
INSKEEP: I want to understand one of the things that you just said. You said the Baker Act, holding someone for up to three days. Are you talking about a kind of protective detention where someone who seems like they might be a threat to others would be held on that basis?
RADER: Absolutely. And I think all these things that I just mentioned - they're all on the table. And I've heard - you know, in Florida, just so your listeners understand - we've had a Republican rule of state government for 20 years now. We've had a Republican governor for 20 years. We've had a Republican Statehouse and a Republican state Senate. The state Senate is about 23 Republicans to 15 - to 16 Democrats. And in the Statehouse, it's about 79-41. So we have had a common-sense gun safety bills by Democrats, you know, by members for many years now offered, but they've never been heard.
INSKEEP: And now you have Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, using the phrase you just used - all measures are on the table. Do you take Governor Scott seriously?
RADER: I do. I do, and there's a big reason why I take him seriously. This shooting, compared to the Orlando Pulse nightclub and the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting - well, the big difference between these three shootings is that this one happened during session. The other two didn't. So everyone is coming back here to Tallahassee this week and for three more weeks of our nine-week session, of our 60-day session, and you can't ignore what happened. Pulse happened in the middle of the summer, and you know, almost two years ago and we haven't had really anything since - you know, meaningful change. This was a much different...
INSKEEP: A reminder there - yeah, a reminder of how many mass shootings there have been, including several in recent years in Florida. I want to ask one other thing. You've criticized Republicans for not acting on this issue. They say they're standing up for the Second Amendment. I'd like to ask you, though, since you do favor more gun control measures, whether you feel this is a solvable problem. Is it actually hard to think of legislation that would really matter much in a country where there are 89 guns for every 100 people, and that's not going to change much?
RADER: Well, you know, and that's a very good question, Steve. I would say this, that we - the reason we have to have common-sense gun laws is that we have to make it illegal to have these assault-type rifles. This young man, he was not doing anything illegally the day before. There was no reason you could've arrested him on February 13. If someone was doing drugs, if someone was doing cocaine, even if they weren't hurting anybody, it's still illegal to do. Let's not make it easy for criminals to have weapons. And so I don't really agree with that that much. And I've heard that argument, that Republicans don't need - you know, this isn't going to stop any mass shootings. But at least make it'll more difficult, and maybe our law enforcement, our FBI, our - in our state, our child welfare is the Department of Children and Families. They will have an opportunity to do what they need to do by - if some of these laws are enacted.
INSKEEP: Senator Rader, thanks very much.
RADER: Thank you very much, Steve. Have a good day.
INSKEEP: Kevin Rader represents Parkland, Fla. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.