By Steve Richards
The So Flo Guns documentary, currently in pre-production, covers more than 500 years of guns in South Florida, from Ponce De Leon’s matchlocks to today’s assault rifles it tracks the evolution of our gun environment. The film shows that guns are part of our man-made ecology. And so far as South Florida’s humans are concerned, at least since landing on Key Biscayne in 1513, they’ve always been here, and they aren’t going anywhere.
So Flo Guns is organized chronologically in three parts with the Musket Ball Era first focusing on the time from 1513 through the Civil War and represented by a musket ball found on Key Biscayne….
Our quixotic interest in disentangling, or at least illustrating the gun situation in the USA, is that the carnage, fear and emotional toll that we live with is unnecessary notwithstanding the seeming paralysis we are stuck with.
Which leads us to an epilogue in which we wonder what might be if all sides of the gun issue could be brought together to compromise and agree on a way forward. When it comes to guns in the USA we will need all sides of the discussion to reach a shared conclusion about steps to reduce their lethality on our fellow citizens like we’ve tamed South Florida’s flood waters. Much like what Marjory Stoneman Douglas accomplished with the Everglades whereby she brought all sides of the issue together - somehow. Something seemingly impossible in today’s political setting.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas
We can perhaps take inspiration from a name infamously reintroduced to all when a young gunman took an AR-15 on Valentine’s Day 2018 and murdered 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland.
An iconic South Florida figure she authored The Everglades: River of Grass in 1947 and remains a gigantic environmental figure internationally as we continue to fight for the Everglades. A Medal of Freedom recipient she lived to be 108. A writer for the Miami Herald she became an activist in her 70’s.
As someone who has great admiration for her I personally find it unfortunate that her name will forever be associated with such a tragedy. But maybe that’s not where the story ends. I’ve come to appreciate that what is required to improve our gun environment is precisely that required to advance the Everglades issues of her day. All sides must be brought together to make real progress. With the Everglades she brought together environmentalists and hunters, landowners and conservationists, Republicans and Democrats. And she moved political mountains to fight a jetport in the middle of the Everglades (The 'world's greatest airport' that never was | CNN Travel) and led the way for tens of billions of dollars for Everglades restoration.
She is an inspiration for what it will take to bridge the chasm in our gun environment. Her example shows that seemingly insurmountable gulfs can be bridged. The tools and example she demonstrated on the environmental front (activism, mutual self-interest, the press, pragmatic leaders) is useful in a gun debate looking for solutions.
Like the Everglades it will take many years to get to where we want to be just like it has taken us decades to get to state-of-the-art flood control, which is anything but finished. Especially given the new variant in that never ending battle: climate change. This makes it something worthy of government action - and resources. Like the Everglades did - and continues to require
Because the violence and lethality that is generated by our gun environment would never be tolerated from water, storms, or other natural causes. Nor should we need to take it from our guns.
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