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Media 'Enable' Bill Nelson to Campaign Off of Parkland School Shooting

February 16, 2018 - 9:00am
Bill Nelson
Bill Nelson

In the wake of the shooting tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there was no shortage of outcry and calls for political legislation to prevent these atrocities. As is ever the case in the immediate stampede for legislative action, pragmatic thinking is rarely addressed -- but that doesn't stop the desire to score political wins. 

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is no stranger to this, nor to viewers of the news covering these tragedies.

In the hours following the attack that claimed 17 lives of students and teachers in the Broward County school, Nelson has been a regular on national news networks. He also has made the rounds of all the cable news nets. Oh, and he's been on the local news channels.

There's a reason for Nelson flooding the zone with personal interviews.

The Democratic senator is in full election cycle here, because his seat is challenged this coming November. Note this appearance with local affiliate CBS News 4. Interviewer Rick Folbaum even mentions the reticence of other politicians and officials to politicize a tragedy like this. He opens things up for Sen. Nelson to launch into a campaign speech: 

“We were just speaking with a Broward County commissioner ... he didn’t want to inject politics into this story so early on in the discussion. But since you mentioned it, sir ... you are running for reelection -- how does this become a part of your campaign messaging? What are you going to promise the people of South Florida if they were elect you to another term?”

With the table properly set, Nelson then pays lip service to not wanting to engage in this kind of talk, and then promptly sits at the campaign place-setting anyway.

“I’m not going to get into a campaign,” says Nelson, before launching into campaign mode. First, he lists a number of other shooting incidents, then gets on his platform. 

“Mental health is certainly one thing that’s got to be looked at, and we got to give more attention to it," he says. "But, there’s something about an AR-15 ...” And there we go.  Nelson mentions being a hunter himself. “But an AR-15 is not for hunting -- that’s for killing. At some point we got to confront what does the Second Amendment -- which I support -- where does it stop?”

This speech matches one he later delivered that evening on CNN. The network covered a live press conference staged at the school, held by the Broward Sheriff and also Governor Rick Scott, who flew down earlier that evening. He had been in meetings with the sheriff, the Broward Schools superintendent, as well as other leaders and officials. 

Following Scott’s presentation Nelson was brought on, and he was eager to lean into the governor, noting the political points that Scott did not address in his presser. Some things to bear in mind here: The governor was busy with a series of rather grim duties in the wake of the shooting. His job here is to provide leadership and work with local authorities on the direct matter. The other detail -- Nelson will be running against Scott for his Senate seat this fall. So while Scott is busy working the aftermath, Nelson is free to appear on as many news outlets as he can find to be critical and pontificate on what he says really needs to be done.

Using this tragedy as his chance to forward gun-control legislation, Nelson extended his campaign-like lecture. He found a way to bring up a tangential issue. “We took a very common-sense approach in a bill offered by Sen. Feinstein, couple of years ago -- this bill said that if you were on the Terrorist Watch List, you can’t buy a gun. And we could not get that passed in the Senate.” 

In none of his appearances did the journalists ask Nelson what this has at all to do with the Parkland school shooting. Nothing about the suspect, Nikolaus Cruz, has been connected with terrorist activity. But the senator was allowed to deliver his campaign prolix, undeterred, while claiming he was above such delivery at the very same time.

That gun bill Nelson felt the need to reference failed to get the votes because, despite his description, it distinctly is in opposition to common sense. The Terrorist Watch/ No-Fly lists have been referenced as triggers for individuals to be denied the chance at gun purchases. 

The issue here is that you can be placed on these lists without ever having committed a crime. Mere suspicion can have you listed, and you could then find yourself being denied your constitutional rights without due process. They want to pass a law that states arbitrary inclusion would supersede your liberty.

Of course, this too was never brought up by any of the on-air members of the press. Nelson was able to deliver his anti-gun messaging, and he did so in an uninterrupted and unchallenged fashion. His opponent, meanwhile, has to reserve such political talk because he is grappling with the direct issue on the ground, working with authorities in a non-partisan fashion.

Brad Slager is a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer who wrote this commentary exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.


lmao...Keep it up already alienated majority of common sense voters of Florida & your push for Billy rocket man wannbe will do the same in 2018 ...He's a Bad Happenings Chaser on Floridians Just to get a Re-election...We the Floridans have Wised Up......Bye Bye Billy Boy

Nelson is "used goods",... it's time to "recycle" him !

Hey, Bill, how many Black kids died in Chicago in the past two days? Oh, yeah, they don't count, do they? They died on the streets of your ideological anti-gun Utopia.

More people have been murdered in Florida under Rick Scott and his administration than under any previous administration. Florida doesn't need another Senator who turns his back on the citizens of the state in favor of campaign contributions from the NRA.


This is just what Nelson always does, try to put a spot Light on such issues. ...........If repubs don't want to be on the losing end maybe they should stick up for all those needlessly killed like Nelson because you are scared of the nra only shows how pitiful the republican party has become. .....Guns should be regulated at least as well as cars..... And owning a gun makes you, your family far more likely to be killed by a gun. .....Fact is the family gun turned on the family is the most dangerous one.

Again, Hahahaha! You liberals are in hysteria. Gone mad with ridiculous statements based on nothing but your mood. Sad.

Nelson is your typical media-loving professional politician who also happens to be a liberal socialist promoting worthless mouthings.


Based upon your silly little emotions, not any empirical evidence. Blow your nose, getting the snot out of your fogged up brain.

I'm on board 100% if you can cite the gun control law that would have prevented any of these school shootings outside of door-to-door confiscation and summary execution of those who refuse to comply.

Jim, They are just clueless liberals. They have no facts to support any of their liberal ideologies. Brain dead zombies.

The points that this idiot journalist misses, and most everyone else in power right now, is no one will even talk about what could be done to prevent these tragedies. So, while every one sits on their hands and does what this legislature is best at, nothing, more kids are being killed in schools. I am an independent voter and a proud Veteran, so I don't have a dog in this fight, but these are the things that should be talked about, right now, today by the people in power. 1) no one on a no-fly list should be approved to buy a gun. 2) no one currently in treatment or who has a mental health issue should be able to buy a gun w/o at least presenting some docs to prove they are not a threat to themselves or others 3) Something must be done to make schools safer, maybe, metal detectors, arming a response team in schools, anything to make schools less attractive as targets for nut jobs. 4) Lawful gun owners and concealed carry permit holders should be allowed to carry a gun anywhere. It is a fact that CCW holders are safer with guns than law enforcement. It is a known fact. I have no faith that these common sense gun ideas will ever become laws. It would make too much sense, and politicians do not do anything that makes sense. However, each and every one of them should be in the Do something, anything is better than what you always do...nothing.

1) no one on a no-fly list should be approved to buy a gun. The no-fly list is arbitrary and capricious. Names like David Nelson (Ozzie and Harriet) and Edward Kennedy (Sen.) are on that list. Once you are on it, you will NEVER get off of it. You don't get to know, even through a FOIA request, if you are on it until you try to fly. The same goes with the terrorist watch list. 2) no one currently in treatment or who has a mental health issue should be able to buy a gun w/o at least presenting some docs to prove they are not a threat to themselves or others Until the HIPPA laws are repealed you will never get that wish. In addition, this would not have stopped him. The only people on the restricted list are those who have been INVOLUNTARILY committed, Those who have been VOLUNTARILY committed are exempt. This man was voluntarily committed. 3) Something must be done to make schools safer, maybe, metal detectors, arming a response team in schools, anything to make schools less attractive as targets for nut jobs. When I see "gun free zone" signs at schools I want to shinny up the pole and add a sign that says "ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK." 4) Lawful gun owners and concealed carry permit holders should be allowed to carry a gun anywhere. Your one good idea. We should follow the Israeli example and arm the teachers and staff. There hasn't been a school attack in Israel in decades since they enacted that plan.

Jimmy boy, people who have seizures are not allowed to drive, per medical intervention, so they don't have the possibility of seizing up and killing people. Same concept here. Get your head out of FoxNews or CNN and think for yourself for a change... I'll take anything over nothing, especially when no flys and nut jobs can buy a killing machine at Walmart in 10 mins. No waiting period currently. Something has to change, and that's coming from someone who made a living taking out nut jobs...

" I'II take anything over nothing, something has to change." well informed choice! Their are 348 million firearms in the US. 15 million AR-15s. Tens of millions of firearm owners, all legally owned. Protected by the 2nd Amendment, to the US Constitution. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Also two Supreme Court decisions dating back to 2008. Reaffirming those rights. McDonald V. Chicago, and Columbia V. Heller. Trying to take away those "killing machines" violates the civil rights, of tens of millions of Americans. Benjamin Franklin opines, "those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither safety or liberty." God Bless America!

Uh, I did talk about the folly of the no-fly list ban. It's in this article.

Bill Nelson, in typical Socialist style, will have his "say" on ANY subject and turn it into how great HE is. Sure, he expressed his sowers before - but it quickly a turned to HIS Politics... shame on him.

In the 90s, Floridians launched an “Eight is Enough” campaign against Congress. The Supremes said it was unconstitutional, so they turned their sights on the FL Legislature and it was enacted. Bill Nelson’s grandstanding on the deaths of these children is disgusting. How many children nationwide have died while he (among others) did nothing. It is time for the people of Florida to enact their own policy of “enough is enough”. Vote for someone else!

Typical knee-jerk rhetoric straight out of demoncratic talking points. It's always about gun control in the aftermath of a tragedy. The fair minded citizenry at large recognizes this failed strategy is just political jibberish. Disarm law biding public because these very same hypocritical elected officials continue to shield mental health professionals from being compelled to report to authorities those with emotional/coping issues who should not have access to weapons of any kind and impose criminal and civil penalties if they do not. That's the simple proactive answer to keeping guns out of the hands of those not mentally sound. Otherwise this type of slaughter will continue. Sad, very sad..

Nelson is a TOTAL WASTE of Florida's time !

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