Yesterday, right before students were dismissed at the end of the day, the fire alarm began ringing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. As students started to evacuate, a 19-year-old former student opened fire, killing 17 students and wounding another 15 students. Here’s what you need to know:
- On average, 33,000 people are killed with guns in the US every year.
- Gun violence is a uniquely American problem: the gun murder rate is 25 times higher than our peer nations.
The shooter used an AR-15—a gun that has been used in numerous mass shootings, including Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, and Orlando. The gun was originally created to be a “replacement for rifles developed during and soon after World War II.” In other words, it’s a weapon of war, something that is unnecessary for hunting enthusiasts or any civilian to own. A new assault weapons ban—or a bill banning high capacity magazines—could be a huge step towards preventing future gun violence. Don’t miss Senator Chris Murphy’s passionate plea for action on the Senate floor. And listen to one student who survived yesterday’s shooting make the case for action from elected officials.
But too many members of Congress are too reliant on the NRA’s money—and are afraid it will run candidates against them—and thus, refuse to take any action opposed by the NRA (which is pretty much any commonsense gun policy). President Trump is one of the most complicit individuals in the NRA’s lies, taking in nearly $15 million in donations from the NRA during his presidential campaign. Meanwhile, the NRA spent over $19 million to bring down his opponent. You’ll likely hear a lot about thoughts and prayers today, but little to no substantive policy ideas from many members of Congress. If you’re outraged, angry, sad, frustrated—or all of these at once—check out our Action of the Day below.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#HonorWithAction. After yesterday’s violent attack, it’s time for real action to prevent future massacres, not just empty rhetoric. Check out if your member of Congress has received donations from the NRA here. If they have, call them at 202-224-3121, and demand they reject the NRA’s dangerous agenda. Or you can use Generation Progress’s new tool to write to your members of Congress, and urge them to take action to prevent future gun violence. Finally, share the graphic below.
“Unpleasant Interactions.” Yesterday, after it was revealed that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars traveling first class, EPA retracted the claim that Pruitt had a “blanket waiver” to travel first class whenever he wanted. Instead, Pruitt claims he flies first class to avoid “unpleasant interactions” with other travelers. Yet, even some congressional allies aren’t buying it. As reported by Politico, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) joined other Republican members to “scoff” at Pruitt’s habit: “I would be embarrassed to get on a plane, sit down in first class and have my constituents pass me by and see me in first class…I just think all Cabinet secretaries and all of us ought to fly coach.”
Blue Slip. This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to advance one of Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees: Michael Brennan. The vote was especially significant as Senator Grassley’s vote represents a break with the long-standing blue slip tradition, which gives home-state senators a say in the nominating process. Brennan, himself, said that the senate should honor the blue slip process. Yet, Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin never returned a blue slip for Brennan, meaning that, “by Brennan’s own standard his nomination should not proceed.” Brennan also falls in line with many of Trump’s extreme policy views, especially around LGBTQ individuals and women.
Mandatory Paid Sick Leave. Today, the city of Austin, Texas will vote on a bill that would require paid sick leave, “a distinction that could set the tone for other urban hubs in the region, as well as for progressive efforts in the state more broadly.” Austin would become the first Southern city to implement mandatory paid sick leave, a huge step forward for an entire region. But such a commonsense policy should be found nationwide. Currently, only seven states plus D.C. have paid sick leave. Such policies are needed, especially now, as the country experiences a dangerous flu season.
UNDER THE RADAR
Trying to Re-Segregate. It’s feeling a bit like the mid-1900s in Alabama. Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit forbade the city of Gardendale, Alabama from seceding from the local school district, noting that it was clearly attempting to do so because of racist motivations. While this is a reassuring victory, it is “a bit of a hollow victory.” In fact, before Gardendale’s failure, three other cities within the same county succeeded in seceding. These efforts have changed the racial makeup of the schools in that district, going from about 75 percent white and 23 percent black in 2000, to approximately 43 percent white and 47 percent black in 2015.” But this isn’t just happening in Alabama. In fact, new studies show that there is a mass re-segregation in U.S. schools occurring across the country.