People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school on Feb. 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Parents of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School launched a brand new political action committee this month aimed at dismantling the gun lobby’s influence in Washington.
The Families vs Assault Rifles PAC will throw money at contentious congressional races across the country, hoping to tip the scales in favor of candidates who support a ban on “assault-style weapons.”
“We’re not about confronting the Second Amendment,” said Matt Ghod, the PAC’s political director, during an interview with CNN this week. “We’re not taking away your handgun or rifle or shotgun. We’re just looking to take out and restrict the ownership of the civilian equivalent of an M-16.”
The PAC said it wants to remove elected officials who receive financial support from the National Rifle Association, loosening the lobbying group’s grip on federal firearm policy.
“The ultimate goal is to amend the National Firearms Act of 1934 by adding just a paragraph or two or whatever it takes to ban assault weapons and also ban the more dangerous accessories of assault weapons, such as high capacity magazines and bump stocks,” said Jeff Kasky, a father of two students at the school, during an interview with CNN. “But we know to get to that very simple goal, we have to take the NRA out of our politics.”
The NRA and its influence in congressional elections came under fire after the Valentine’s Day massacre in Parkland, Florida left 17 dead and 17 wounded. Gun control activists blamed the association, saying its constant lobbying for “more guns, everywhere” makes schools more dangerous.
“Most Americans agree that there needs to be some common-sense gun reform. Why don’t we have it?” Kasky said. “The party in power is being controlled by the NRA.”
NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch blamed law enforcement failures for the massacre during a Townhall earlier this year, insisting local officials’ inaction allowed the gunman to slip through the cracks.
“They (students) were threatened with death. They were threatened that they were going to bleed. They were threatened that they were going to be killed,” she said. “And he had already taken bullets and knives to school. And he already assaulted people. He assaulted his parent. He assaulted other students. Thirty-nine visits and this was known to the intelligence and law enforcement community. I’m not saying that you can be everywhere at once, but that’s why you have to follow up on these red flags.”
In March, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement opened an investigation into the Broward County Sheriffs Department’s botched response to the shooting.