Is “everything on the table” for Rick Scott after Florida school shooting? | Rangel
Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s brief contemplation of more gun control was enough to make headlines in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
Scott, who enjoys broad support from the National Rifle Association, said Thursday “everything is on the table” when pressed by CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer on whether he’s committed to tightening access to guns in Florida.
“It’s a lot of things,” Scott said. “It’s looking at who should have guns. Should individuals with mental illness have guns?”
He also said “we’ve got to look at these things” when asked why you can buy an assault weapon in Florida before you’re old enough to buy a beer.
Scott isn’t necessarily breaking with Republicans’ focus on mental illness after it became known shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz had displayed several warning signs of mental instability. And Blitzer had to press Scott several times to get anything close to a stance on gun control.
Yet the fact that Scott uttered the words “gun” and “access” in the same sentence is a departure from other Republicans. After Marjory Stoneman and the Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 in Orlando in 2016, it’s clear constituents are fed up and expect more than thoughts and prayers.
Scott’s ally and friend President Trump didn’t mention the word “gun” once during his nearly seven-minute remark about the shooting, focusing instead on school security and mental illness. A Marjory Stoneman High student slammed him after he tweeted condolences, saying “do something instead of sending prayers.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio told Fox News “I think it’s important to know all of that before you jump to conclusions that there’s some law that we could have passed that could have prevented it.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan said “we need to pray” and “we don’t just knee-jerk before we even have all the facts and the data.”
The main difference between Scott and these other Republicans is he’s probably challenging U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in this year’s election. Polls show a tight race with the Democrat slightly edging Scott in some surveys. After two mass shooting under his watch, Scott needs to show voters he’s doing more than sending thoughts and prayers.
It makes sense to look beyond gun control and consider boosting funding for school mental health counseling and exploring ways to make schools safer. We were all shocked to hear how easy it was for Cruz to enter his former high school, though we don’t know all the details about how that happened.
Although federal law bans firearm sales to someone who is adjudicated mentally defective, gun buyers are seldom turned down. From 1998 to 2014, only 1.4 percent of the roughly 1.2 million FBI background checks resulted in denial, USA TODAY reported.
Under Florida law, people who are involuntarily committed to a mental institution under the Baker Act or who a physician believes present imminent danger to others or themselves cannot purchase a firearm. But those committed voluntarily or whose “dangerousness” isn’t imminent can. Banning people committed voluntarily from buying guns, however, would affect many who aren’t dangerous.
California, Washington, Oregon and Connecticut have laws allowing family members or authorities to ask a court to temporarily prohibit someone from possessing a firearm.
If Scott is indeed laying “everything on the table,” he will face resistance from a GOP-led Legislature that’s under the iron fist influence of the NRA. Lawmakers have in past years pushed to broaden access to guns and are on course to pass a bill this year to allow a licensed person to carry a concealed weapon in houses of worship.
Senate President Joe Negron said Thursday he’s more interested in school safety and mental treatment.
Scott’s handling of this school shooting will be a balancing act of the GOP’s unwavering defense of the Second Amendment and his need to show Florida voters he can provide more than condolences.