The Florida House of Representatives was in session on Tuesday considering several issues. These included a motion to consider a bill banning the sale of assault weapons in the aftermath of the mass shooting that killed 17 people last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and a resolution declaring pornography a public health risk.
The House chose not to consider the bill that would lead to stricter gun control.
But it passed a resolution saying that porn is dangerous.
"Unfortunately, just five days after 17 people were gunned down at a Florida school, the Florida House just passed a bill that declares pornography a 'public health risk,'" state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D, told the Independent. "Basically, what they have determined is that these are the Republican priorities in 2018: Wasting our time with debate and legislation that declares porn as a health threat, meanwhile we can't even get a single debate, vote, or hearing on anything related to assault weapons."
"That's really sad," he added.
Tuesday's session opened with state Rep. Kionne McGhee, D, asking for a procedural change to allow the House to consider the bill banning assault weapons, which was assigned to three committees but had not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
"I ask that you keep this bill and the conversation about the solution to combat mass shootings alive," McGhee declared. "The shooting at Parkland demands extraordinary action."
The House voted down the motion 36 to 71 within three minutes as survivors of the shooting watched from the gallery of the Capitol.
"It was just so heartbreaking to see how many (voters') names were up there, especially after it was my school," Sheryl Acquaroli, a 16-year-old junior at Stoneman Douglas who was watching, told CNN. "It seemed almost heartless how they immediately pushed the button to say no."
"They had a chance to stop it today. If there is another mass shooting it's going to be their fault," she added.
Less than an hour later, state Rep. Ross Spano, R, presented his resolution, arguing that viewing porn can lead to both "mental and physical illnesses" along with "deviant, or problematic sexual behaviors."
Smith grilled Spano, asking a series of questions, among them whether anyone has ever been "been physically handicapped" by porn, or if porn ever caused any first responders to seek therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Do you believe that identifying porn as a public health risk is more important than identifying gun violence as a public health violence, especially after the events of this week and the events of June 12, 2016, when 29 people were murdered by gun violence at Pulse?" Smith asked.
While there is some support for the idea that pornography can be mentally damaging, there's also support for the argument that it leads to greater sexual satisfaction. No scientific consensus exists on whether porn is wholly positive or negative.
The House approved the resolution by a voice vote, to the chagrin of many House Democrats.
"He was saying porn as a health risk was more important to address here in the Florida Legislature than the epidemic of gun violence," Smith later told the Associated Press. "These are their priorities. I don't understand the politics, to be honest, if I'm being honest. 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."