After the February shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., Gov. Rick Scott (R) was one of the first Republican politicians to cross sides on gun politics. Now, Scott could become one of the first Republican politicians post-Parkland to campaign on having changed his stance on guns.
Scott signed a gun-control bill Friday that raises the age limit for buying long rifles, among other measures. “This is a time for all of us to come together, roll up our sleeves and get it done,” he said.
Scott’s political advisers stress that the governor did not decide to support gun-control measures based on politics. But politics will follow him all the same if the term-limited governor decides to run for the Senate in November, which he’s seriously considering doing.
So, will Scott’s new views on gun control be a political pro or con? Because he’s one of the first high-profile Republican politicians to face this situation, let’s weigh both.
PRO for Scott: He may have neutralized any Democratic accusations that he didn’t act after a deadly mass shooting.
Democrats have strongly hinted that going after Scott over Parkland will be part of their campaign strategy. At a CNN town hall the week after the shooting, his would-be Democratic opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, repeatedly slammed Scott for not appearing.
But Scott just signed Florida’s most significant gun-control package in two decades.
“He’s not going to have to ride this into the fall with Bill Nelson and Democrats saying, ‘Why didn’t you do anything?’ ” said GOP strategist Rick Wilson, who is based in Florida.
On Friday, Nelson’s official Senate office issued a tentative statement calling the legislation “a first step.” “If we really want to do something to combat gun violence, like what we saw in Parkland,” Nelson said, “we must require universal background checks on the purchase of a gun and get these assault rifles off our streets. Until we’ve done that, we still have a lot of work to do.”
CON for Scott: He also just signed into law a controversial proposal to arm some teachers.
Arming teachers is exactly what Scott said he didn’t want to happen after Parkland.
It’s an idea supported by the most extreme in the gun rights debate, such as National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre and, depending on the day, President Trump. It’s so radical that it could…