Ron DeSantis sounds like he blames increased gun deaths on COVID. Was it a failure of communication?
Image via NBC News

Desantis CNBC
Is the pandemic to blame for a sharp uptick in gun related deaths under the current administration?

Ron DeSantis sounded like he said Sunday that he doesn’t blame guns or easier access to them for a dramatic increase in gun deaths under the first three years of his administration.

Instead, DeSantis said he blames COVID-19, only to have his campaign clarify that it was a matter of miscommunication and a rushed transition by the interviewer to other topics.

During an interview on Meet the Press, the Governor was confronted with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stats that show not just more deaths due to firearms, but also a higher rate per capita than was the case under former Gov. Rick Scott.

“The what mortality rate, no, no, no,” DeSantis said.

“Because, well, because you had COVID and all that stuff. Excess mortality … is that what you’re saying? That went up everywhere in the country from 2020 on,” DeSantis said, either misunderstanding the question or deliberately flubbing his response.

Florida Politics reached out to DeSantis’s spokesperson, Jeremy Redfern, for clarification on what DeSantis may have understood the question to be.

We were told the interview was organized by the campaign, and then reached out to the campaign. A spokesperson suggested the analysis should reflect that the Governor asked for clarification, but the host quickly moved on.

The exchange came after an extended back and forth with host Kristen Welker, in which he again explained his position that “involuntary commitment” would have stopped the mass slaughter in Maine this week, in which 18 people were gunned down by a former Army Reservist who a state official said had not been committed involuntarily and was able to get the AR-15 legally.

Regarding the statistics, they are clear in showing a general upward trend in gun deaths since 2014. The rate went from 11.5 to 12.9 per 100,000 people under Scott’s term, which ended in 2018.

In 2019, there was a slight decline, to 12.7. That was in the wake of legislation signed by Scott that, among other changes, banned people under the age of 21 from buying guns in the wake of a massacre at a high school in Parkland in 2018.

But 2020 and 2021 brought increases unseen in Scott’s era, with 13.7 casualties per 100,000 people in 2020 and 14.1 in 2021.

The population of Florida has grown, and the number of deaths along with it. In 2014, that number was at 2,410. By 2021, it ballooned to 3,142. That said, the rate of Florida gun deaths per capita is the seventeenth lowest in the country.

DeSantis was not compelled to respond on national television to the most recent mass shooting in Ybor City, but his office posted to social media that it’s “been in constant contact with (the Florida Department of Law Enforcement) and (is) offering all available resources to local law enforcement to respond to this terrible situation.”

The stats may be affected by legal changes, meanwhile. DeSantis signed permitless carry legislation this year, and has campaigned on it in some places as he runs for President.

“We have stood for the second amendment by enacting constitutional carry,” DeSantis said in Utah, at an event where (ironically enough) guns were not allowed.

Upon the bill’s introduction late last year, he chided previous legislatures for not getting the bill done sooner. In the same vein, he has protested in recent days against Florida’s red flag laws.

His claim is that the Legislature won’t move on them.

“The Republicans passed it in the Legislature before, before I was Governor. I mean, they all voted, right. They all voted on it. It passed overwhelmingly and there’s not an appetite amongst them to review their votes basically,” he said on CNN Thursday evening.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Tom

    October 29, 2023 at 10:39 am

    He seems to be in a contest with himself to see who can make the stupidest statements and he seems to be winning. If he is as desperate for attention as he looks, he may as well drop out now and be done with it.

    • Julia

      October 29, 2023 at 3:29 pm

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      V­­i­­s­­i­­t­­i­­n­­­­­­­g F­­­­­­­ol­­­­­­­lo­­­­­­­w­­­­­­­in­­­­­­­g­­­­­­ L­­i­­n­­k——————————->>>

  • Michael K

    October 29, 2023 at 11:43 am

    Flooding our communities with unfettered access to weapons of death to appease gun manufacturers has NOTHING to do with increased gun deaths. That’s like saying the more cigarettes that people smoke, the more likely they are to die of cancer. Utter nonsense all around. The answer is bulletproof glass.


    • MH/Duuuval

      October 30, 2023 at 1:18 pm

      The Legislature, aware of the chaos their gun love has brought, recently had bulletproof glass installed in the state house.

  • PeterH

    October 29, 2023 at 12:26 pm

    A Ron DeSantis narrative has the intellectual grammar of a ten year old. Stay clear of complete thoughts and sentences! Let those words roll off your lips like you know something!

    • Rick

      October 29, 2023 at 9:55 pm

      Grow up dude! Why don’t you get a job and get off your mom‘s couch commenting on all this shit and shit is what it is! Get a job!

  • Ocean Joe

    October 29, 2023 at 2:22 pm

    Actually in his defense, he and the questioner were both trying to get their points across and not listening to one another.

    Does that make it right, or does that make it a rightwing candidate who is still frightened to appear on mainstream media stuff?

    • Joe

      October 30, 2023 at 12:54 pm

      Yeah but that’s how he interacts with any reporter/media member who isn’t just lobbing him partisan softball questions. You go on the Meet the Press to demonstrate you can handle the big conversations like an adult, butTiny D comes up short yet again.

Comments are closed.


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