The first debate between Florida’s Republican Senator Marco Rubio and his Democratic challenger, Rep. Val Demings, provided a much-needed forum to discuss the issues important to Floridians. On topics such as abortion rights, voting rights, foreign policy, and guns, the candidates had vigorous debates and displayed clear differences in their positions.
One of the most prominent topics discussed during the debate was gun control, an issue that has historically been divisive in Florida politics. Rep. Demings called out Sen. Rubio for his inaction on gun control by asking “How long will you watch people being gunned down in first grade…and do nothing?” This comment highlighted the stark contrast between the two candidates on gun reform – Sen. Rubio often opposed any kind of new gun restrictions or regulations while Rep. Demings has held an unambiguous stance in favor of stronger gun control laws and background checks.
Rep. Demings’ criticism of Sen. Rubio was met with applause from many viewers who have seen far too little progress toward curbing America’s deadly problem with guns. Even after several mass shootings throughout this year alone, Congress remains largely split and unable to pass meaningful legislation around gun reform that would save lives and protect Americans’ right to safety overall.
It is clear that Florida voters have a real choice this election when it comes to gun control: stay within an elected official that has failed to enact meaningful change or move towards elected leadership with a true commitment to accountable change on this issue from top levels of government down to local communities where lives are affected every day due to lack of action from lawmakers like Sen Rubio. Rep Val Deming’s callout during her debate against Sen Rubio made it clear which candidate is more open and willing to make progress around responsible gun ownership laws and regulations –– one that can no longer be ignored if we want a safe future for our children free of mass shootings and other deadly gun violence in their classrooms or homes.