Florida politicians respond to deadly school shooting in Texas

Thoughts, prayers and calls for action emanate from the Sunshine State.

The latest school shooting in America, this one in Uvalde, Texas, already has politicians calling for action.

Here is a roundup of Florida political leaders’ responses in the aftermath of the shooting (of note, some statements were issued before the most recent number total number of victims was clear):

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican: “The horrific tragedy in Texas should spur Congress to act on proposals that can pass and actually make a difference like our bipartisan Luke & Alex School Safety Act.”

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, a Naples Republican: “Ann and I are heartbroken to hear about the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School. No student should ever be afraid to go to school. The violence must end. We are praying for all of the victims, their families and all affected by this senseless act.”

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a St. Petersburg Democrat and candidate for Governor: “I’ve hunted since I was a kid. I know what it means to be responsible with guns. But I also know that these mass shootings, which are increasing in frequency, have nothing to do with responsible gun ownership. What they have to do with are a small number of disturbed people with easy access to military style weapons and a large number of Republican politicians who don’t have the guts to make our schools and public places safe from this carnage. Why is it, years after the tragedy of Parkland, mothers and fathers are still sending their kids to school in buses and seeing them return in hearses? There are many common sense measures that Congress, our Governor and Legislature could enact today that would save the lives of Florida’s schoolchildren and citizens in the years ahead. For once and for all, require background checks for private gun sales. Right now, today, anyone can go online and find a gun, meet someone in a parking lot, and buy it with cash and no background check. We need to ban the sale of assault weapons and high capacity magazines for assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols. Is there any legitimate reason to have a 30-round magazine for recreational shooting or home defense? There’s not. We have to act, and we have to act now. It’s up to Republican legislators and our Republican Governor to get onboard or get out of the way.”

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat and candidate for Governor: “I wish I could offer words of hope, but today I only feel loss, despair, and frustration. Until we can work together to smother the wildfire of gun violence, hope will remain elusive. We must work together at every level of government, across political parties, uniting non-profits, community leaders, and business groups on the side of common sense, decency, and safety. My heart is breaking for the children and families in Uvalde.”

State Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Miami Democrat and candidate for Governor: “How many children have to die before we act? Imagine the excruciating pain of these parents, wondering if your kid is one of the ones killed. And yet we continue to do nothing. Enough is enough! We failed after Sandy Hook. We failed after Parkland. Our kids cannot afford for us to fail now. Now is the time to stop the next Uvalde.”

Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican: “What we are hearing and learning in the news is gut-wrenching. My heart breaks for the victims of the attack on Robb Elementary School in Texas. Please pray for the families of the victims, those still fighting for their lives and the doctors trying to save them.”

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a Republican: “I cannot fathom such evil that exists that would take the lives of innocent children. My heart breaks for these Texas families.”

U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack, a Gainesville Republican: “My heart absolutely breaks for the families of the children and teachers taken way too soon in Uvalde. This senseless violence by an evil, sick individual took innocent lives. Matt and I join the millions of Americans praying for these families whose lives have changed forever. Thank you to the first responders and the CBP agent who responded so quickly. May God comfort and protect these grieving families going through this unimaginable tragedy.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat: “Another heartbreaking situation unfolding in Texas. Our children should be able to attend school without fear. Parents should be able to have peace of mind that they’ll see their children again at the end of the day. We have the power to enact commonsense gun control measures already passed by the House — the Senate must have the courage to act. America’s kids deserve better. Republicans won’t even support universal background checks to keep weapons out of the hands of domestic abusers, criminals, and terrorists. So, pro-life?… No.”

U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, a Miramar Democrat: “As a mother my heart is breaking. As a Congresswoman my blood is boiling. God forgive us if we don’t stand to protect our children. Not tomorrow. TODAY. Enough is enough. We need courage. We need action. This must change.”

U.S. Rep. Val Demings, an Orlando Democrat: “Marco Rubio’s silence speaks volumes. I’m sick and tired of innocent people being gunned down in innocent places. Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. The United States Senate needs to get off their knees and do something about our children being gunned down in school.”

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat: “Today will no doubt go down as the saddest day in the history of Uvalde. Our hearts are torn and broken.’ The Uvalde judge who said that just now rightly marks this saddest day for his community. Like the saddest day in Newtown and the saddest days in my own community. And the sadness and broken hearts march from city to city across America. Only America. It sickened me that Congress never did anything after Newtown. I’m ashamed that Congress did nothing after the gun violence that devastated Parkland and South Florida. And amidst the tremendous sadness I feel for every family that lost a huge piece of its future, from the dreams parents had for their kids to the contributions not made by a committed teacher to her future students, I am outraged. I’m shaking with fury at the pathetic position we’re in. The millionaire gun company lobbyists who work day and night thwarting the will of the people. The way we go from one mass tragedy to another getting a little number each time. The news cycle quickly flipping back to celebrity trials. Receiving condolences from politicians from all over the world who want to know what’s wrong with America. I watched a generation of young people inspired to action after the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School because they were sick of all this fear and death. I grew close to so many families who have turned their own grief over losing a loved one into meaningful action to make change, from winning elected office to starting organizations committed to making schools safer and ending gun violence. And today rips another piece from their hearts, as they confront another mass shooting and the realization that Congress has continued to ignore their pleas for help. The Senate should pass the background check bill. Right now. Make them all vote. It won’t prevent every act of gun violence but it will save lives. And the people want it. We must demand it. And we should pass the EAGLES Act, a bill presented by Parkland parent Tony Montalto and his group Stand with Parkland. It will help prevent school shootings. And it’s bipartisan. And we should pass the Luke and Alex School Safety Act, a bill presented by Parkland parent Max Schachter and his group Safe Schools for Alex. It will also help prevent school shootings. And it, too, is bipartisan.  And Jaime’s Law presented by Parkland parent Fred Guttenberg in memory of his daughter. It will make it harder for dangerous people to acquire ammunition to carry out these acts. We should also ban ghost guns. And pass red flag laws. And stop the sale of high-capacity magazines. There are a lot of things we should do—a lot of things that the NRA’s money and political cowardice have prevented for decades. But now, with yet another mass murder at an elementary school, with 19 children — children, aged 10 and under — and two of their dedicated educators gone, can’t we at least do what should be easy? Can’t we, at the very least, do what is bipartisan and straightforward? We have Marched for our Lives. Keep marching. And demand action.”

U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, a Hialeah Republican: “I’m devastated by the senseless shooting at Robb Elementary School that took 19 innocent lives. School safety must be at the forefront of our priorities in Congress. I pray for the families, staff, and students that were victims of this merciless act of violence. Over the past five years, I’ve worked with (Parkland parent) Max Schachter and colleagues from both sides of the aisle on commonsense legislation to strengthen and improve school safety measures so that no parent has to outlive their child as a result of a ruthless act of violence in our schools. 1. The Luke & Alex School Safety Act, which I also introduced in the 116th Congress, would codify into law a federal clearinghouse that categorizes, assesses, and shares best practices for school safety measures and identifies the resources necessary to implement them. 2. The EAGLES Act, also introduced in the 116th Congress, is a bill named for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Eagles, which would expand the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) and create a program on targeted school violence prevention. If signed into law, these bills can make a real, substantial difference in the safety of our schools. Yet, sadly, for two Congresses now, House Democratic Leadership has failed to bring these bills to the House floor for a vote. We can and must protect our children and schools. I urge House Democratic Leadership to bring these bipartisan, bicameral bills to the House floor for a vote. Congress must take legitimate and effective action now.”

U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, a Naples Republican: “No family should have to bury their loved one because of the actions of a sick and deranged animal. Our nation is suffering from a mental health crisis that is plaguing our society and senselessly killing too many. Erika and I offer our deepest condolences to the victims of this attack. Erika and I grieve the innocent loss of life today in Texas at the hands of a heartless psychopath. 15 precious lives are gone in a blink of an eye because some coward didn’t value their life. This disgusting attack shines a light on the mental health crisis we face as a nation.”

U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, a Panama City Republican: “Heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. So much innocence was snatched away by pure evil. Please join me in praying for the students, teachers, staff and their families at this time. They’re going to need strength and support in the days ahead.”

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a West Palm Beach Democrat: “I am heartbroken by the news of another senseless mass shooting at an elementary school. Our children deserve to feel safe at school, not fear for their lives. We must do more to stop this unthinkable violence. Today, I join all who are sending their thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families, as we mourn the lives that were taken.”

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Winter Park Democrat: “Two mass shootings in two weeks. When will we come together to protect our children, our communities, and our country? How many more innocent Americans must die? As leaders, we have the power to make things better. I’m asking my colleagues to have the courage to act.”

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, a Kissimmee Democrat: “President Biden I stand with you in saying enough is enough. How many more violent attacks against school children like those at Robb Elementary have to happen? I support universal background checks, red flag laws and reinstating assault weapons ban. This is the time for action.”

U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican: “‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’ – Matthew 5:4. Keeping the students, families, and Uvalde community in my prayers during this horrific time.”

U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, a St. Augustine Beach Republican: “Absolutely heartbroken at the horrific news of 18 schoolchildren being murdered at Robb Elementary. We will learn much more in the awful days to come but for now my heart is with those shattered families. I thank all the men and women who work tirelessly every day to stop evil like this from happening in our communities: the School Resource Officers, our Sheriffs, and first responders who put their lives on the line to prevent this kind of sick, senseless violence.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat: “I am sickened by the bright futures that were lost today in another senseless act of gun violence. My heart breaks for the victims’ families and people of Uvalde. This madness must end.”

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Hollywood Democrat: “Another day, another tragedy, and still no action to protect our kids. How many more of our youngest must pay the price before our Republican colleagues finally grow a backbone and join us in action to curb the gun violence epidemic and protect our communities?”

State Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, a Davie Democrat: “Unspeakably heartbreaking news from Texas…except we must speak of it, to keep the memories of 14 elementary school students and one brave teacher alive. And to commit to doing all we can to stop the stream of mass casualty gun violence in America. When is enough enough?”

State Sen. Lori Berman, a Delray Beach Democrat: “Fourteen children went to school in #Uvalde today to learn and see their friends and teachers. They kissed their parents goodbye this morning for the last time. There is a terrible sickness in this country, and we need answers as to why. But we need bold gun safety reform now. Absolutely horrific. I’m at a loss for words. Horrific gun violence is uniquely American.”

State Sen. Janet Cruz, a Tampa Democrat: “My heart breaks for Uvalde as they struggle with unthinkable loss and tragedy. As a mother, it pains my soul to think about the parents who sent their children to school only for them to never come home again. May God Bless those in Texas affected by the horrific tragedy.”

State Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Miami Gardens Democrat: “Unfortunately, ‘unbelievable’ no longer fits into these tragic events. This time, far too many schoolchildren gone in an afternoon. My heart aches for the state of Texas, the friends and families of the victims and all survivors whose trauma is re-opened when these events occur again and again. We must come together, as a nation, to ensure that when our students go to school, there is no chance they don’t run due to senseless violence. I’m committed to using my position to continue to work across the aisle to create policies to increase school safety and prevent this from ever happening again.”

State Sen. Rosalind Osgood, a Tamarac Democrat: “A Texas elementary school is the victim of yet another school shooting. This senseless crime has caused extensive damage to innocent families and has left a community unnecessarily destroyed by gun violence. While the details of the Uvalde, Texas shooting are still underway, two Texas law enforcement officers have been injured and families now mourn the horrific loss of 21 lives taken at the hand of a gunman. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and although the motives of what caused suspect, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos to enter an elementary school and take 21 lives has yet to be revealed, mental health will be a subject of discussion.  When will our schools go back to being a safe haven for our children? My heart and prayers go out to the family and friends of the innocent lives lost and injured today, and I strongly hope that other lawmakers see that enough is enough! It’s time to put an end to gun violence.”

State Sen. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat: “What can we even say at this point but I am heartbroken for these families and community. Gun reform legislation may not solve all of our problems but dammit we have to do something! I don’t see any other proposals on the table so take your thoughts and prayers and do something!”

State Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat: “This is just heartbreaking! 14 students, one teacher killed in Texas elementary school shooting.”

State House Speaker Chris Sprowls, a Palm Harbor Republican: “May God surround the families who are feeling incomprehensible grief in Texas with His love & grace after losing their children at hands of a disgusting and evil murderer. It is just sickening. In Florida we stand in prayer and sorrow with those who are hurting in Uvalde tonight.”

State Rep. Robin Bartleman, a Weston Democrat: “My thoughts and prayers are with the Uvalde families and community. When is enough, enough?”

State Rep. Mike Caruso, a Delray Beach Republican: “Join my campaign to make Florida Schools the most secure in the World. 19 children and two adults were killed in yet another senseless tragedy yesterday in Uvalde, Texas. This tragedy cannot be repeated. We must ensure the safety of our schools. First, we need to keep guns out of the hands of those that are mentally ill. Schools should also be built with the primary emphasis on security. Public officials need to develop a statewide minimum set of school security standards for new school construction and upgrades for older schools. We should fund the additional expense. No parent should worry if their child will come home after a day at school and no child should live in fear that a normal school day may be their last. I look forward to sponsoring the Florida minimum security standards for school construction act next year.”

State Rep. Dan Daley, a Sunrise Democrat: “How many more lives need to be lost before we get serious about taking any meaningful actions to keep our children and families safe? The victims of yet another senseless, violent act deserve more than our thoughts and prayers. Vastly more. Will we deliver?”

State Rep. Tracie Davis, a Jacksonville Democrat: “This news is horrifying, heartbreaking and way too common in this country. There is no excuse for our gun control laws to be the way they are. How many empty chairs have to sit at how many empty tables before people in power choose to act on commonsense reform?”

State Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a Tampa Democrat: “Ten in Buffalo. At least 21 in Uvalde. Both within 10 days. My heart breaks for the families and local communities impacted by this. We should all grieve for an America that has become desensitized to this.”

State Rep. Nicholas X. Duran, a Miami Democrat: “In Tallahassee in the House again hearing of a shocking but all-too-regular occurrence of another mass shooting and children’s lives being violently taken at the hands of a gunman. As a daddy of two elementary school kids my heart breaks for all involved. This is preventable.”

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat: “Do not become numb to this. It is not normal for there to be mass shootings. It is not normal for kids to be murdered or shot at school. We must honor those no longer with us through action and not allow politicians to continue ignoring this crisis. Gov. DeSantis has spent more time banning books and erasing LGBTQ+ kids than keeping our kids safe from gun violence, AND he plans to allow for permitless carry too. This dangerous policy agenda uses kids as pawns and distracts us from solving real problems, like gun violence. My heart is aching but we can’t turn away from these images, this loss, or allow ourselves to become numb. We must find power in pain and honor those no longer w/us through action.”

State Rep. Randy Fine, a Palm Bay Republican: “I will never forget presenting a bill on the floor as I watched my colleagues become frenetic as we learned about Parkland. I think of how heartbroken we were — and are — as we pray for those children, staff and families in Texas. May the murderer spend eternity in hell. I have news for the embarrassment that claims to be our President — try to take our guns and you’ll learn why the Second Amendment was written in the first place.”

State Rep. Jason Fischer, a Jacksonville Republican: “My heart is broken after hearing about the horrific tragedy in Uvalde, TX. My deepest thoughts and prayers are with victims, parents, school staff, first responders and their families.”

State Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil, a Maitland Democrat: “I am devastated by the news of the killing of elementary students and their teachers at Robb Elementary in Texas. I am heartbroken for their grieving families and the community reeling from this horrific tragedy.”

State Rep. Fred Hawkins, a St. Cloud Republican: “Please join me in praying for the Texas community. Our deepest condolences to everyone.”

State Rep. Yvonne Hinson, a Gainesville Democrat: “And still all we get is thoughts and prayers.”

State Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, a Parkland Democrat: “My heart goes out to the families of the 14 children and one teacher who were killed at Robb Elementary school in Texas today. Another community is now devastated and traumatized by gun violence. How many more deaths must happen until we as a society decide enough is enough?”

State Rep. Dotie Joseph, a North Miami Democrat: “More living, breathing, fully born children have died. Were their deaths preventable? Yes. Some offer empty thoughts and prayers (plus permitless carry) when we need action. Every other developed nation in the world protects their children from gun violence. Why can’t we?”

State Rep. Chip LaMarca, a Lighthouse Point Republican: “I have sponsored Florida’s school safety legislation in the past and will continue to make our schools safer as new technologies like Alyssa’s Law become available. Keeping our students, teachers and staff safe while in school should be everyone’s top priority and it is mine. School hardening, single point of entry, proper mental health and anti bullying programs are all things we have implemented. We will expand upon this in Florida. There is always more work to do and I will continue to be a leader on school safety in Tallahassee. It’s my job.”

State Rep. Andrew Learned, a Brandon Democrat: “In case you’re wondering why America is so divided, Fox News is actively blaming the shooting today on Joe Biden trying to spend money to end the covid recession. Now you know.”

State Rep. Randy Maggard, a Dade City Republican: “We are devastated to hear of the senseless act of violence that occurred today in Uvalde, Texas. Our prayers are with the wounded, and with the families of those who tragically lost their lives.”

State Rep. Amber Mariano, a Hudson Republican: “My heart is broken today for the catastrophic loss of life at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas yesterday. I am praying for the families of all 21 victims and also the survivors who now have an unspeakable tragedy to process.”

State Rep. Angie Nixon, a Jacksonville Democrat: “Fourteen students and a teacher killed at an elementary school in Texas by an 18-year-old high school student. Get in your kids’ business. And I mean all of it. The @NRA needs to be paying for some funerals and we need gun control now.”

State Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby, a St. Petersburg Democrat: “When is enough, enough? 14 BABIES. I cannot even begin to process this. Jesus the Christ.”

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat: “Fourteen kids and one teacher were just killed in a Texas elementary school shooting. This is soul-crushing. My heart breaks for these families and for the Parkland, Pulse, Sandy Hook and other communities traumatized by these endless shootings. If we can all agree on universal criminal background checks for gun purchases, why haven’t we done it yet?”

State Rep. Allison Tant, a Tallahassee Democrat: “The unbearable grief of these families breaks my heart. Another incomprehensible act of violence.”

State Rep. Matt Wilhite, a Wellington Democrat: “The horrific news coming out of Texas today brings back the terrible memories of a shooting at a school right here in Parkland Florida. My love goes out to the families whose hearts are broken right now and the whole community in Uvalde. My heart hurts for the families that are getting the worst news of their life as the number of victims increases in Texas.”

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, who was Sheriff at the time of the 2016 Pulse massacre Orlando: “Once again, we are saddened at the news of another mass school shooting. We grieve with and pray for the victims’ families and all those impacted in Uvalde, Texas. It is past time for America to rethink its strategies in reducing gun violence if we truly want to stop these shootings from happening. Do you agree?”

Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz: “14 children, babies, murdered. 14 parents putting their kids in the ground. 14 empty rooms in their house. 14 futures destroyed. We passed meaningful gun violence prevention In Florida after Parkland. Democrats in D.C., bypass the filibuster and pass federal gun violence prevention. I never told my son, who was 4, that he was put in a closet for his safety during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School school shooting in Parkland. Now he’s the age of the victims in Texas. After MSD, a Parkland parent whose daughter was murdered said, “There should’ve been one school shooting and we should have fixed it. 9/11 happened once and we fixed it!” It’s now 18 empty chairs at empty tables. In America, when you drop your kid off at school it should be a guarantee that you get to pick them up. The red flag laws passed in Florida in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting have been used 5,000 times!”

Former state Rep. Bobby DuBose, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat: “Enough is Enough! I am still trying to wrap my brain around the heinous shooting in Buffalo, now this. Innocent children and a teacher have lost their lives because of gun violence in Uvalde, Texas. Please no thoughts and prayers, we must ban assault weapons.”

Prevent Gun Violence Florida: “What was once atypical has now become all too common in America. It is time — well past time — for lawmakers at the federal and state level to implement smart gun control reform. We can no longer abide inaction as gun violence continues to increase with now weekly mass shootings, this time at a Texas elementary school where children’s and adult lives were robbed and the victims’ families forever marred by devastating grief. Our lawmakers face what should be an easy choice: The value of human life over firearms. Thus far, we have seen no serious gun reform as lives continue to be violently snatched away from their loved ones. If our federal and state lawmakers continue to turn a blind eye and reject reform in fealty to the gun lobby and an outdated, perverse interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, they should be deeply ashamed and voted out of office.”