Sen. Rick Scott is one of more than 30 Senate Republicans likely to vote “no” on a bipartisan gun control bill under consideration. On Thursday, he offered some context for his opposition.
Some commentators have invoked reforms Florida implemented in 2018 in the wake of a school massacre in Parkland — such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act — as a model for the Senate legislation. But Scott went to considerable lengths to explain key differences in an extended statement from his Senate Office.
“Since the tragic shooting in Uvalde that took the lives of 19 children and two teachers, I have heard from many Floridians about the need to support commonsense legislation that follows the action Florida took after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. While there are elements of the bill now being considered in the Senate that I support, like the Luke and Alex School Safety Act that I have been fighting to pass for years, the Senate also unfortunately decided to take action that is not consistent with the aggressive due process protections that I fought for when I was Governor,” Scott asserted.
Scott bucked the National Rifle Association in signing his bill in 2018. He paid a political price with the base, albeit a small one. Over 11% of Republicans voted for perennial candidate Rocky De La Fuente in the GOP Senate Primary.
But now Scott is making it clear he won’t invest his political capital into what he sees as a flawed Senate product and process.
“Over the last two weeks, I’ve seen many people compare the bill being considered in the Senate to what we did in Florida. These bills are not the same at all,” Scott argues.
He then compared the work done by the Florida Legislature favorably to the work being done by his current colleagues.
“One was the product of a collaborative, well-defined and transparent process. The other was the result of secret backroom dealings that did not include input from the majority of Republican members, committee hearings, nor opportunities for amendments, giving members barely an hour to read the bill before we were asked to vote on it,” Scott contended.
“In Florida, we used a thorough process that included meetings with mental health, education and law enforcement experts to get valuable feedback on our bill. At the conclusion of that process, I signed a bill that improved school safety and has kept guns out of the hands of dangerous people and those suffering with mental illness, all while ensuring strong due process protections that stop unlawful infringement on the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Floridians,” Scott contended.
Still, Scott has taken ongoing criticism for the ban of gun sales to people under the age of 21. Scott has continued to defend that provision, saying in a recent interview that the law meant that those under 21 had to buy guns with their “parents.”
Scott continued to distance himself from the Senate product, which “abandons Florida’s model and allows even the most radical policies, like California’s red flag law, to be implemented and supported with federal funding.”
“Ironclad due process protections are essential to protecting the constitutional rights of Americans and we can NEVER compromise on that,” Scott asserted.
“This bill also allows convicted domestic abusers to have automatic restoration of their gun rights. People who have been accused, tried and convicted of beating their significant other would automatically get their gun rights back after just five years. I will not support soft-on-crime policies like this,” Scott continued. “As Governor of Florida, I always weighed past domestic abuse when considering a restoration of gun rights through the clemency process and I do not support efforts to allow someone who has been convicted of domestic abuse to have the opportunity to automatically get a gun.”