Parkland students are criticizing lawmakers’ quick action to protect animals on flights while ignoring pleas for stricter gun control laws.
Senator John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, introduced a new bill on Thursday called the Welfare of Our Furry Friends Act (cleverly shortened to WOOFF) that would forbid airlines from putting animals in overhead bins.
He announced his plans for this bill only hours after an 11-month-old puppy died on a United Airlines flight after a flight attendant forced its owner to put it in an overhead bin, and on the same day as the national student walkout in remembrance of the victims who died in the Parkland school shooting a month ago.
Today, I introduced the Welfare of Our Furry Friends Act, also known as WOOFF, w my colleague @SenCortezMasto. Our bill directs the @FAANews to create regulations to prohibit the storing of a live animal in any overhead compartment and establish civil fines for violations #WOOFF pic.twitter.com/U3nZqLNIaH
— John Kennedy (@SenJohnKennedy) March 15, 2018
Kennedy was called out on social media after tweeting about his plans to propose the bill. As a staunch opponent of gun control, the senator’s quick action to protect pets was seen as hypocritical to many people, including Parkland survivor Cameron Kasky.
“I don’t enjoy having to legislate common decency, but by God, I’m going to do it until they take this seriously,” Kennedy tweeted on Thursday.
Kasky fired back: “17 people got shot at my school and nobody’s taking THAT seriously.”
Then Kasky asked lawmakers why they didn’t apply the same quick action to students who were killed by gun violence.
Senators, I must respectfully ask,
If the 17 brave eagles at my school who lost their lives to a gunman wielding an assault rifle were a dog on an airplane, would you finally talk about guns?
— Cameron Kasky (@cameron_kasky) March 15, 2018
Lex Michael, another Marjory Stoneman Douglas student also criticized the senator’s inaction.
It took a month for a bill having to do with safety for schools to get to the house but a dog dies and it took 48 hours
— Lex Michael (@lexforchange) March 15, 2018
Others on social media responded similarly. Twitter user Sheryl Reeder responded to a tweet by Kennedy that said “pets are family” with “If pets were being gunned down by an AR-15? Sensible gun legislation in the blink of an eye.”
If pets were being gunned down by an AR-15?
Sensible gun legislation in the blink of an eye.
— Sheryl Reeder (@SherylReeder) March 15, 2018
Twitter user @bonibrat criticized Kennedy’s announcement, calling his lack of reaction to multiple mass shootings, compared to one incident of a dog dying, “an even bigger kick in the gut.”
Animal cruelty is inexcusable. But the speed with which Sen John Kennedy responded to the @united tragedy of a dog dying in an overhead bin—something that has happened precisely ONCE on record—makes his reaction (or lack thereof) to mass shootings an even bigger kick in the gut.
— Clyde stayed in the car. (@bonibrat) March 15, 2018
This isn’t the first time politicians have been criticized for proposing new legislation while ignoring calls for gun control. Twitter had a similar reaction in February, when New York lawmakers introduced a bill that would require Tide Pods to look less appetizing so that teenagers would be less inclined to eat them.
Teens start eating Tide Pods + within WEEKS lawmakers are calling for a change to their design.
There have been 18 school shootings in 2018 ALONE + there is very little being done for more restricted gun control.
Someone please explain this logic to me bc I’m very, very lost.
— lex 🌻 (@alexissantoraaa) February 15, 2018
The criticism, of course, doesn’t mean that animals shouldn’t also be protected from cruel treatment on airplanes. Kennedy’s bill would impose civil fines on airlines for improperly storing animals in overhead bins. According to a report by the Department of Transportation, United Airlines has been responsible for 18 animal deaths this year alone, making it the airline with the highest pets deaths for the third year in a row.