Florida Senator Bill Nelson calls on Congress to act following Parkland school shooting

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) spoke Thursday on the Senate floor about the tragic shooting that resulted in 17 deaths and multiple injuries at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday.

RELATED: 17 dead in south Florida school shooting, 19-year-old suspect in custody

Complete Coverage: Parkland School Shooting

“At some point, we’ve got to say enough is enough,” Nelson said. “At some point we, as a society, have to come together and put a stop to this. To those who say it’s not the time to talk about gun violence because it’s too soon, we don’t want to politicize right after a tragedy … then I would ask, when is the right time? How many more times do we want to do this? How many more folks have to die?”

Nelson went on to say, “Let’s have the conversation about this right now – not just about mental illness, and that’s part of it, not just about protection at our schools, and that’s part of it – let’s get to the root cause … let’s get these assault weapons off our streets.”

“Let's just not talk about it. Let's do something about it,” Nelson said. “Let’s make what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a pivotal moment in this country’s history, not because it was one of the largest mass shootings – but, hopefully, because it was the last.”

Watch/Read Nelson’s full remarks below: 

Mr. President, those were all our children.
 
Those of us who are parents, you can imagine the parents of those children wondering what else can be done.
 
Because yesterday a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in northern Broward County, Parkland, Florida, walked on to the campus with a gas mask, smoke grenades, and carrying an AR-15 assault rifle. He pulled the fire alarm. He waited for the students to come out into the hallway and he opened fire.
 
And as a result, 17 families are grieving. Their worst fears have become reality, and more than a dozen other students who were injured, they're in the hospital and some of them in critical condition.
 
At some point, we've got to say enough is enough. At some point, we as a society have got to come together and put a stop to this. This senator grew up on a ranch. I have hunted all my life. I have had guns all my life.
 
I still hunt with my son. But an AR-15 is not for hunting. It's for killing. But despite these horrific events that are occurring over and over, these tragedies have led so many of us to come right here to this floor and to beg our colleagues to take commonsense actions that we all know will help protect our children and our fellow citizens from these kind of tragedies. And we get nowhere.
 
So when is enough going to be enough?
 
Sandy Hook elementary, 20 students killed. That wasn't enough.
 
The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, 49 people killed, a terrorist. That wasn't enough.
 
Las Vegas, 58 people killed, that wasn't enough.
 
Or just a year ago in the same county as the Parkland murders, Broward county, Fort Lauderdale airport, five people killed. That wasn't enough.
 
Now this high school, 17 killed, some as young as 14 years old. So when is enough going to be enough?
 
This senator has spoken to local officials on the ground. I've spoken to the superintendent of the schools who in his own way is going through the grieving process.
 
I've spoken to the F.B.I. I've spoken to the sheriff's department to make sure that they have everything they need, but when I finish talking to these folks and as we get through with the Dreamer legislation today, I'm headed down there and when I go to the hospital and see the families and see the hospital victims, all I can thank is how many more times are we going to have to go through this?
 
And those families are going to say to me, when is enough, enough?
 
To those who say now that it's not the time to talk about gun violence because it's too soon, we don't want to politicize right after a tragedy, that's what is said over and over. Then I would ask, when is the time?
 
If now is not the right time, when is the right time? After the next shooting? Or after the one that's going to come after that? Because these are not going to stop unless we change ourselves as a culture.
 
How many more times do we have to do this? How many more folks have to die? When is enough going to be enough?
 
So let's don't hide from it. Let's have a conversation about this right now, not just about mental illness and that's part of it, not just about protection at our schools and that's part of it.
 
Let's get to the root cause. Let's come together and help end this violence.
 
Let's talk about that 19-year-old carrying an AR-15. Let's do what needs to be done and let's get these assault weapons off our streets. Let's accomplish something on background checks.
 
My state passed a constitutional amendment, Florida, 1998. Background checks have to be done in the purchase of a gun. It's never been implemented totally and it's never been enforced. A simple background check.
 
The terrorist that killed 49 in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub, he had been on the terrorist watch list. If we'd have had a background check there, he wasn't on it but maybe in a background check, we ought to include those who had been on a terrorist watch list.
 
Let's have a conversation about this.
 
Oh, and do you remember a couple of years ago there was a proposal on the floor that if you're on the terrorist watch list, you can't buy a gun. That's pretty common sense. We won't let them get on an airplane because we don't want them taking down a commercial airliner. But they don't have a restriction of buying a gun.
 
So let's get at the root cause of this issue. Let's do what we all know needs to be done. And let's do it now, not later.
 
Let's just not talk about it. Let's do something about it.
 
Let's make what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a pivotal moment in this country's history, not because it was one of the largest mass shootings, but hopefully because it was the last.
 
It's with a heavy heart, Madam President, I yield the floor.

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