Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), a proud National Rifle Association member, falsely accused congressional Democrats this week of acting like totalitarians and wanting to “take away” guns from law-abiding citizens in the wake of multiple mass shootings across the country. He then pointed to a law he signed as Florida governor after the tragic February 2018 Parkland mass school shooting, suggesting that bill had been about finding real solutions to the gun violence problem.
But Scott’s vaunted SB 7026 has hardly solved the problem in Florida, where more than 30 mass shootings have happened since he signed the legislation.
Scott penned an op-ed in The Washington Post on Friday urging red flag laws to temporarily disarm people who are a threat to themselves and others. In it, he made the seemingly contradictory claims that “[o]ne thing that does absolutely nothing to help is the almost instantaneous politicking and blame games that follow each new mass shooting,” and that “[d]epriving Americans of their constitutional right to bear arms is the ultimate goal of many on the left who exploit tragedies such as these for political gain.”
On Monday, Scott joined Fox News to reiterate his unfounded claims that those advocating for tougher gun laws are trying to disarm all Americans.
“This is like Groundhog Day. We have a shooting and the Democrats want to take away your guns. They don’t want to solve problems, they want to take away your guns. That’s what totalitarian governments do,” the Florida Republican charged.
He then boasted that after the mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February, he had worked effectively to solve the problems of school safety and gun violence.
“What we did in Florida was after Parkland happened, I sat down within four or five days, I got law enforcement together, mental health counselors together, and I got educators together. And within three weeks we passed logical, common sense legislation to make our schools and communities safer. It started with red flag laws that say if you’re threatening harm to yourself or somebody else, the law enforcement can go to the court system and through due process, all weapons can be taken away,” he said.
“[W]hat we did,” Scott continued, “in contrast with [what] Democrats are doing to take away your guns — we said, ‘What will solve the problem?’ So we ought to look at red flag laws. We ought to look at everything we can do to keep these communities safer. Because you would hate this to happen to your family or any family. Your heart goes out to the families that lost their loved ones.”
Scott dismissed calls by some to reinstate a ban on the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles, again comparing this idea to “what totalitarian governments do.”
Numerous Democratic countries including Australia and New Zealand have, in fact, banned semi-automatic weapons.
Scott’s suggestion that the Florida legislation was about finding solutions is questionable. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 31 mass shootings in Florida since Scott signed his law last March, resulting in 39 deaths and 117 injuries.
Though most recent mass shootings have been carried out by white men, Scott also seemed to suggest on Monday that minority youths were the problem.
Criticizing President Barack Obama for his efforts to reduce the school-to-prison pipeline for minority students, Scott suggested that such policies were the driver of mass shootings. “Obama passed this Promise Act, which said minority students would not be stopped and referred to law enforcement,” he charged, falsely identifying a Department of Education guidance letter as a non-existent piece of legislation. Scott was likely thinking of the Youth PROMISE Act, a legislative proposal to help youth offenders that was signed into law by President Donald Trump in December 2018.
He added, “This stuff makes no sense. Let’s hold people accountable. Let’s provide more law enforcement and more mental health.”