‘Betrayal,’ ‘traitor’ — Mass shootings highlight Florida GOP divide on red flag laws
Matt Gaetz for House Speaker? There's talk.

'You are a traitor to the Constitution, the Second Amendment, the Fifth Amendment.'

Red flag laws allowing relatives to ask law enforcement to remove guns from a person who might be a danger to themselves or others are again being debated in the wake of a mass shooting at a school. Once again, the issue is splitting Florida Republicans.

One faction touts them as a useful tool to keep firearms away from dangerous people and prevent mass shootings. Another sees them as a lever of control ripe for abuse that violates gun owners’ rights.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, belongs to the latter faction.

“If you back red flag laws as some reflexive response to some emotion that you have, you betray your voters,” Gaetz said in remarks addressed to Republicans in the U.S. Senate during a U.S. House committee hearing last week. “You are a traitor to the Constitution, the Second Amendment, the Fifth Amendment; you do nothing to make mass shootings less likely and you put a target on the back of your constituents.”

The hearing was held in response to the mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 fourth graders and two adults dead.

Gaetz’s remarks were aimed at his own GOP Senators, Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, who support a bill encouraging states to adopt their own red flag laws.

Rubio is the main sponsor, and originally filed it in 2018 after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland left 17 dead, including 14 children. The bill would set up a grant program at the Department of Justice, giving states money to fund law enforcement agencies tasked with conducting the emergency protection orders, or warrants allowing police to remove guns from a person suspected of harming themselves or others in the near future.

Scott was Governor when the Parkland massacre took place on Feb. 14, 2018. In the aftermath, he helped forge a compromise bill that included some gun control measures, threw hundreds of millions of dollars at school safety and mental health programs and installed a red flag law. He sees Florida’s law as a model for other states to follow but doesn’t want to tinker with federal gun laws.

“Sen. Scott is not working on federal gun legislation. Sen. Scott believes in the Second Amendment and protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens,” Scott spokesperson McKinley Lewis wrote in an email.

“He encourages every state to look at the targeted action he took in Florida following the tragic shooting at Parkland to make our schools safer and keep weapons out of the hands of people who are mentally unstable, and who pose an imminent threat of violence to others or themselves and determine what works best for their state.”

The Florida law has been used more than 5,000 times in four years.

Scott is a co-sponsor of Rubio’s bill. Lewis didn’t respond to Gaetz’s specific “betrayal” and “traitor” comments. A spokesperson for Rubio didn’t respond to emailed questions.

Although Gaetz represents a hard-line faction of Republicans in the U.S. House popular with base GOP voters, there’s another constituency heavily courted by Republicans over the last two years that welcomes the red flag laws: law enforcement.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who have supported Gov. Ron DeSantis’ hard-line rhetoric backing police and his controversial anti-riot law, have also spoken out in favor of the red flag law, saying it saves lives.

DeSantis, though, hasn’t commented specifically on the value of Florida’s red flag law. As a candidate, DeSantis said he would’ve vetoed the school safety bill Scott signed because of the gun control measures it contained. A spokesperson for DeSantis did not respond to an email seeking comment this week.

Yet Gaetz was a close adviser to DeSantis before an FBI investigation into whether Gaetz had sex with an underage girl was revealed last year. No charges have been brought against Gaetz, who has denied any wrongdoing.

“This isn’t just about guns, it’s about power,” Gaetz said. “And what the Democrats want is to ensure that the government has the power to take your guns away without giving you due process. Shame on any Republican in the Senate that would pave the way to that type of deprivation of our liberty and our constitutional rights.”

Gray Rohrer


  • Bill

    June 9, 2022 at 11:30 am

    Good old short eyes – guaranteed to be on the wrong side of anything.

  • ScienceBLVR

    June 9, 2022 at 4:32 pm

    I don’t know if it’s the eyes, the hair or what. Gaetz just makes my skin crawl a bit. Kind of like Ted Cruz in that aspect. Even before the accusations about young girls. And they are just accusations at this point, he has not been charged. But he is just so slimy- like a snail. Makes anything he whines about suspect.

  • Matt McMillan

    June 10, 2022 at 10:33 am

    Just waiting for Matt Gaetz to invoke the Roy Moore Christian Nationalist defense…”Well Eve was only 12 when Adam took her”.
    Sooner than later the two current wings of the GOP just have to break apart. Gonna be real ugly…and costly for both sides!

  • Yeah

    June 10, 2022 at 12:29 pm

    Your red flag should of been the paper reduction act look at hackable and destructive it’s becoming

  • Harold Finch

    June 10, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    Gaetz is a blabbering idiot who is so slimmy and seedy that every time he speaks it is purley obnoxious. He and his sidekick Halsey Breshears are two of a kind!!

  • Yeah

    June 11, 2022 at 8:31 am

    Super inflation trade agreements over priced housing and free food to expensive car owners this all sounds like a trade scam to me to meet other economy needs

  • TheseBootsAreMadeForWalkin

    June 12, 2022 at 9:14 am

    Gaetz signed his name to the Red Flag Law (along with 135 other RINOs) then when questioned about his betrayal of Americans and the First Amendment, turned ‘yeller’and blamed HIS vote on “staff error”.

    Now he’s bad-mouthing other republicans who want to do what he did?

    He gives me the creeps. I can’t ever trust him now that I know what he did (it was widely reported by various sources last September, you only have to look it up).

    By the way, these ‘mass shootings’ are all false flags, created, choreographed and paid for by the lunatic left/globalists and their RINO pets.

    They’re desperate to do to us what the ‘conservative’ Australian criminal, John Howard, did in 1996 to Australians and then with lightning speed, had an innocent young man framed and locked up for 35 consecutive lifetimes.

    Can’t wait to see justice be served on all the of these cruddy, slithering, slimy criminal political snakes worldwide.

  • JD Winchester

    June 14, 2022 at 8:20 am

    I agree with Matt Gaetz. Red flag laws are a violation of the cornerstone of our Constitution, the right of every American to due process. I’ve been a VERY outspoken proponent for Ron DeSantis as POTUS in 2024 (with Kristi Noem as VP) but I will be VERY disappointed in him if he does not oppose Florida’s UNCONSTITUTIONAL red flag laws.

  • Armando Garcia

    June 19, 2022 at 7:59 pm

    De Santis will not act against red flag laws because of the influence of pro-gun control Jewish “donors”. De Santis is always kissing their ass.

Comments are closed.


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