Outrage as Florida legislature passes porn bill hours after rejecting gun control
In Tuesday’s session, the Florida House of Representatives voted 36-71 against passing House Bill 219 in a matter of three minutes. The bill would have prohibited the sale of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines and required “certificates of possession” for lawfully-possessed firearms, among other measures.
The bill had not been heard in the House committees since representative Kionne McGhee, [D-Miami] submitted it last October. A January 10 senate bill was likewise ignored.
An hour later, Rep. Ross Spano turned the lawmakers’ attention to more pressing matters: pornography. The bill (HR 157) argued that it was “creating a public health risk” and was “contributing to the hypersexualization of children and teens.”
"Research has found a correlation between pornography use and mental and physical illnesses, difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships, unhealthy brain development and cognitive function, and deviant, problematic or dangerous sexual behavior," Spano argued before the House Health & Human Services Committee in January.
His proposal passed by a voice vote.
Representative Carlos Guillermo-Smith, a Democrat, angrily pointed out the bill was irrelevant.
“[Spano] was saying porn as a health risk was more important to address here in the Florida Legislature than the epidemic of gun violence," he said, according to The Hill. "I'm not aware there's a base of voters who are losing sleep every night over the epidemic of pornography as a public health crisis."
The motion triggered public outcry over the priorities of Florida lawmakers. Many survivors of the Parkland high school massacre were present in the House gallery and voiced their outrage, calling the vote “heartbreaking."
Guillermo-Smith later tweeted that seventeen people were murdered with an AR-15 assault rifle and that gun violence was the greater threat.
Many media personalities also expressed their horror at the decision.
Smith, 47, vowed to pursue similar legislation during his election campaign in 2016, after 49 people were gunned down by an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) sympathizer at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.