The student survivors of the Parkland school shooting have been widely praised for sparking a national movement for gun control through fierce activism lobbying lawmakers, leading online campaigns, and organizing marches. But one lawmaker in their state is dismissing them as “children” not to be listened to.
“We’ve been told that we need to listen to the children and do what the children ask. Are there any children on this floor?” asked State Rep. Elizabeth Porter during discussion on a bill before the House on Wednesday. “Are there any children making laws? Do we allow the children to tell us that we should pass a law that says no homework, or you finish high school at the age of 12 just because they want it so?”
Porter, a Republican, answered her own questions: “No. The adults make the laws because we have the age, we has [sic] the wisdom, and we have the experience.” There was little reaction from her fellow lawmakers, and she kept speaking.
Porter's comments came on the 10th day of state legislators' debates on a new bill for stricter gun laws in the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, for which the bill is named. Later Wednesday, the bill passed the House in a vote of 67-50, two days after the Senate passed it. The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk.
It includes a mix of new protocols, drawing from both sides of the debate: It will raise the age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21, and it will allow certain school personnel to be armed.
That’s definitely not what Parkland students, who advocated for a total ban on all assault rifles, wanted.
Many of these people Porter calls “children” will be 18 by election time this November, and part of their effort is pushing voter registration so their peers can vote in the midterms and beyond.
Porter, who has represented Florida’s 10th District since 2012, chairs the state’s Higher Education & Workforce Subcommittee, and serves on its Education Appropriations Subcommittee and Education Committee. Her office didn’t immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
After the video segment of her monologue went viral, the Twittersphere erupted in anger. “I spit out my coffee watching this. I know of 17 kids who'll never be doing homework again!” wrote one user. “To equate not wanting to get shot in the face with not wanting to write an essay is obscene.”