Why Florida Lawmakers Have Decided That Porn Is a Public Health Hazard

Is porn more dangerous than guns? That’s what Florida lawmakers seem to think. After the state’s tragedy in which a shooter gunned down 17 students and teachers, you’d think they’d see it’s finally time to make a difference in keeping children and teachers safe.

However, they focused their efforts on a different public health risk: pornography. Here’s why they seem to think porn is the obvious threat, and the message it sends in relation to gun control.

Florida lawmakers wouldn’t even debate gun control before shutting it down

A student speaks at a podium at the Florida State Capitol.

Students were understandably upset. | Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The massacre of 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has left many citizens saying that it’s time to make a change. An AR-15 style rifle was used in the mass shooting, which has sparked a long-overdue call for gun control.

As one 17-year-old survivor of the shooting, Florence Yared, explained, “The only purpose of an assault weapon like this is to kill, and to kill as many people as possible. The AR-15 is not a self-defense weapon. It is called an assault weapon. Assault. Think about this word.”

Democratic Florida state Rep. Kionne McGhee requested a motion to debate a bill regarding assault weapon control. According to NPR, the motion “required a two-thirds vote.” The results were 36 in support, with 71 voting against the motion. That means Florida’s House of Representatives denied even a possible debate to consider the ban of assault rifles.

Student and Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez tweeted, “How could they do that to us? Are you kidding me??? #Neveragain.” She added, “We are not forgetting this come mid-term elections — the anger that I feel right now is indescribable.”

Next: Here’s what lawmakers had to say about their decision.

Some lawmakers explained why they voted ‘no’

Students protesting in front of the Florida State Capitol.

Some believed that voting ‘no’ would help the issue further. | Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Florida news channel WTSP claims to have reached out to 28 local lawmakers to request explanation for their vote. Apparently, they only heard back from “about a quarter of them.”

One Republican lawmaker, Rep. Kathleen Peters, explained that she was “looking at the bigger picture” when she voted against debate for control on assault weapons:

Although I do believe we need common sense gun reform, I voted down on the motion because I am not that narrowly focused. I want real reform to not only stop mass shootings, but stop all gun violence. If we just banned assault weapons and did nothing else, we would have done little to protect our citizens in a meaningful way. I do not want to lose another life to gun violence; not through a mass shooting, domestic violence or suicide.

Next: Yet they voted to approve this bill on the same day.

They declared porn a public health risk the same day

A group of students and activists.

Some thought this issue was less crucial at the moment. | Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

On the same day — at the same meeting — that these Florida lawmakers denied any gun control debate, they voted in favor of passing a bill to take measures against pornography. They’ve deemed porn a “public health risk,” with their vote signifying an effort to “protect teens.”

Next: This is why they’ve decided porn is a public health risk.

They claim pornography risks teens’ mental and physical health

Ross Spano speaking in front of a blue curtain.

Here is what happened. | Tampa Bay Community Network via YouTube

According to the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Ross Spano, research has proven pornography to be a public health risk. In January 2018, Spano claimed before the House’s Health and Human Services Committee, research has “found a correlation between pornography use and mental and physical illnesses, difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships, unhealthy brain development and cognitive function, and deviant, problematic or dangerous sexual behavior.”

Spano, who is running to become Florida’s attorney general, presented the bill in support of “education, prevention, research, and policy change” to protect against pornography’s dangers.

Next: This is the dangerous message they’re sending.

They’re sending a message that porn is more dangerous than guns

A student's protest sign in Florida.

Students don’t feel as if lawmakers are on their side. | Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Florida lawmakers’ approval of pornography restrictions on the same day as their rejection of gun control debate sends a clear message: that porn is a bigger threat than guns are. Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith sees just how backwards this philosophy is, and has been vocal about his opposition to their votes.

According to USA Today, “During debate on the resolution, Smith asked Spano if pornography had ever killed or maimed anyone and if first responders had even been forced to seek counseling because of pornography. Spano said he did not know the answer.”

Smith spoke to the Independent, explaining just what these same-day voting decisions mean. “Basically, what they have determined is that these are the Republican priorities in 2018: Wasting our time with debate and legislation that declares porn as a health threat,” he argued.

“Meanwhile we can’t even get a single debate, vote, or hearing on anything related to assault weapons.”

Next: Here’s how many are standing up against this decision.

Many have taken to Twitter to voice their outrage

Annie's tweet.

Many took to social media to express their anger. | AnniefromKansas via Twitter

Smith is not alone in his outrage. In addition to attending rallies for gun control, many have used Twitter as a tool to voice their opposition to these Florida lawmakers’ decisions. One user wrote, “Yes. We all remember that time a gang of porn stars walked into a school and murdered a bunch of innocent children and teachers. Thanks Florida House.”

Another user wrote, “So Florida is trying to tell me that PORN is a health risk but ASSAULT WEAPONS are not. I can promise you that porn is probably de-stressing these kids because they’re stressed out from being shot at.”

Next: And still, crazy conspiracy theories about the survivors have gained traction.

Others have suggested Florida’s student activists are ‘crisis actors’

Two students standing in front of memorials.

The students protested for action as they mourn their fellow students. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

While many Americans are banning together to try to make a change in gun control, others are standing by conspiracy theories about Florida’s student activists. District Secretary Benjamin Kelly, an aide to Republican state Rep. Shawn Harrison, was fired due to his controversial comments regarding these conspiracies.

He expressed to a Tampa Bay Times reporter that he believed the activists “are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen.”

According to NPR, the Parkland high school’s 11th-grade class president, Jaclyn Corin, responded to the claims on Facebook, writing, “We are KIDS – not actors.”

She continued, “We are KIDS that have grown up in Parkland all of our lives. We are KIDS who feared for our lives while someone shot up our school.  We are KIDS working to prevent this from happening again. WE ARE KIDS.”

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