Parents of children killed in the 2018 Parkland shooting have voiced their outrage over Florida Governor Ron Desantis’ approval of H.B. 543, which removes the permit requirement for concealed carry firearms in the state. Fred Guttenberg, the parent of victim Jaime Guttenberg, called Desantis a ‘weak, pathetic, small-minded individual’ for signing the bill. Jaime Guttenberg, 14 at the time, had been killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Her father, as well as Manuel Oliver, the father of 17-year-old Joaquin Oliver who also was killed in the Parkland attack, pledged to chase down Desantis across the country to challenge his decision.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the bill, claiming that it “guarantees there will be more dead children.” She argues that it is “shameful” that such a bill could be passed so soon after another school shooting.
Now, with this bill taking effect from July 1st, background checks and training are no longer necessary for those wishing to carry a concealed weapon in public. This has sparked controversy over the Gov. DeSantis’ current agenda, which calls for restrictions on abortion services and a “Don’t Say Gay” law intended to limit what teachers can teach about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Guttenberg is a well-known activist for gun control, having penned a book — “American Carnage” — which seeks to dispel misconceptions related to gun violence. Manuel Oliver, of Change The Ref, promotes awareness of mass shootings and other public issues. He was recently arrested after shouting at lawmakers during a House hearing on gun laws.
The implications of this bill extend much further than just public safety concerns, as it speaks to the boldness and politicization of gun control in the country. Whether Desantis’ bill takes hold or is challenged in the months ahead, it has come to spotlight the ongoing societal debate and political tension surrounding gun control.