Republican state senator Kelli Stargel lectured her fellow Florida lawmakers and constituents during a special session Saturday, taking to the floor to deliver a speech in which she advocated against gun control, against banning assault weapons, against allowing local towns and cities to make their own laws to restrict guns, while arguing in favor of arming teachers. Senator Stargel also attacked those who mock the “thoughts and prayers” she offers when there is yet another mass shooting.
“If I thought for one moment that if we banned assault weapons, that all of these tragedies would end, you would have me. I would be with you. But are we going to ban fertilizer, which is what they used in the Oklahoma bombing? Are we going to ban pressure cookers, which is what they used in the Boston massacre? Are we going to ban the multiple handguns that were used in other assaults? Are we going to ban the sawed off shotguns which was used in Columbine?” she asked.
Senator Stargel in 2014 argued extensively to regulate beer and require it be sold only through distributors. She was not as concerned about regulating guns. Her reasoning: “Higher beer production and higher consumption go hand-in-hand.” Apparently allowing easily-accessible guns is an entirely different matter.
“It’s not the weapon,” Stargel continued on Saturday, arguing against regulating guns and against banning assault weapons. “It’s the evil from within. And unfortunately, Senator Stewart said at the very beginning of her debate, when we say ‘thoughts and prayers,’ it’s frowned upon. And I take real offense at that because thoughts and prayers are really the only thing that’s going to stop the evil from within the individual who is taking up their arms to do this kind of a massacre.”
“So I will continue to do the thoughts and prayers,” Stargel said, adding that she would also, despite giving her discomfort, look at increasing the age limit to buy assault weapons to 21. She mentioned mental health and coming from a “broken home” as reasons why people commit mass shootings.
“But in my opinion, the one thing that will actually change this the most is the one thing that has actually become fighting words, which is to say ‘thoughts and prayers.’ So that’s something I’m going to continue to add to my comprehensive plan, that we can hopefully stop the evil that is happening from within our world.”
After Stargel’s and other lawmakers’ remarks, the Florida Senate voted against the bill to ban assault weapons. They then paused to observe a moment of silence for the 17 people shot to death on February 14 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Watch the video below via The Washington Post