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Florida State Rep. Jared Moskowitz Discusses Delays In Gun Control Legislation


In the Florida House, Jared Moskowitz has been one of the more outspoken voices in this debate. He's a Democrat who represents the Parkland area. And when we spoke with him almost two weeks ago, he was frustrated with Washington but optimistic that Florida could come through.


JARED MOSKOWITZ: Washington is broken. Nothing's going to happen in Washington. But Tallahassee has three weeks. We have three weeks. We have a unique opportunity.

CHANG: Now, with just one week left in their legislative session, some of that optimism is gone.

MOSKOWITZ: The bill is still moving along. But this obviously is not where I thought the process was going to go. The bill does keep guns out of the hands of people like Nikolas Cruz, but now it also potentially could do other things that really were never part of this conversation. And so we have a bill in which the two sides have come together. We are talking. We are compromising. And sometimes when you do compromise, that means both sides have to get something.

CHANG: And both sides have to give something up.

MOSKOWITZ: And both sides have to give something up. I, obviously, am against arming teachers. I was against it from day one. I filed the amendment to take it out in committee. I filed the amendment on the floor to take it out of the House bill on the floor. But at the same time, in the bill is monumental gun control for the state of Florida, which we've not been able to do in 20 years and may not get another crack at it again for a long period of time.

CHANG: What would you be willing to give up in order to get a gun control legislation package passed?

MOSKOWITZ: I am willing to give up certain things to get the marshal program, which is the optional program to arm teachers out of the bill. And I am working on that. You know, what specific I'm willing to give up - I'm not willing to tell the other side exactly what I'm willing to give up yet because we're still having negotiations. And they might listen to NPR. You know, we'll continue to have that dialogue, continue to have that conversations. We got a week left to get this done. A week is an eternity when it comes to negotiating a bill.

CHANG: Are there any lines in the sand that you would draw? Is there anything the other side wants that you absolutely will not consider?

MOSKOWITZ: I mean, the answer to that is of course, which is that this can't just turn into a bill that doesn't answer the ultimate question. Would this have prevented another Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting? Would this bill keep guns out of the hands of people like Nikolas Cruz? So if they want to start getting rid of things like, well, you can be under 21 and still buy guns or you're not going to have a waiting period - if they start getting rid of stuff like that, then at the end of the day, then we have to kill the bill.

CHANG: Is there any middle ground that you could stomach with this proposal to possibly arm teachers or other staff at schools?

MOSKOWITZ: Well, listen, it gives me indigestion. I mean, I'm already stomaching the optional program. I mean, I can tell you if they wanted to mandate the program, that's a complete deal breaker I think. We - then this bill would die under its own weight. It's objectional (ph) to me because I'm trying to take guns off the streets. I'm trying to get guns out of the hands of people like Nikolas Cruz. I'm not trying to put more guns in places. And so we've got to be very careful as we move forward on what we can get accomplished here and then give these kids - give these kids a win that they can take to D.C. so they can accomplish what they've been working so hard on since this tragedy happened at Douglas.

CHANG: There are so many conflicting forces going on here. You've had a lot of people traveling to the Capitol to put pressure on you guys, on the lawmakers. You have the NRA and their supporters. You have the survivors of the Parkland shooting. What do you think? Which side seems to have more influence over your colleagues right now?

MOSKOWITZ: Well, that's tough to say. It's obviously based on where they're from and their district. I mean, I would tell you that, you know, Democrats are hearing from parents that want gun control. We're also hearing from teachers that don't want this program, this Marshal program, even though it's optional. I think Republicans are hearing from the NRA big time. The NRA is sending out emails saying we need to find people to primary these Republican-elected officials. The NRA is saying we're going to spend more money in Florida in races than we've ever spent before. So the NRA is in full force. You may not see it if you're in a Democratic district, but if you're in a hardcore Republican district, they're getting hammered. And they're also hearing from teachers that don't like the optional marshal program.

So everyone right now is hearing from their constituents, hearing from their activists, hearing from their neighbors. We cannot leave here without a bill. That's just got to be the ultimate, ultimate answer of whether or not we succeeded or failed these kids. This bill is already not what they want. They want different stuff. But the idea that we did nothing and we failed them - that's got to be totally unacceptable.

CHANG: Jared Moskowitz is a Democrat and represents the Parkland area in the Florida House of Representatives. Thank you very much.

MOSKOWITZ: Thank you.