The fundamental disconnect between how the left and the right view the deadly mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando was on full display Friday morning during a live interview of Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott.
While Senate Democrats, led by Chris Murphy, led a 15-hour filibuster that secured at least a vote on two gun safety bills, Gov. Scott repeatedly refused to admit that easy access to firearms played any role whatsoever in the massacre, which left 50 people dead, including the gunman.
Scott began by striking a gracious note in regards to President Obama’s visit to the state, thanking him for making an emergency declaration, but Brown was quick to shift the conversation away from the “grieving process” and towards the growing “focus on gun control.” Yet over the course of the seven minute interview, Scott consistently played down the role of guns, including the shooter’s preferred weapon, the AR-15, which can be obtained in his state more easily than a handgun.
Asked by CNN anchor Pamela Brown if he and Obama discussed the gun issue on Thursday, Scott replied, “Yesterday wasn’t about politics,” shifting the conversation back to the victims. Brown wanted to know if meeting with victims and their families may have changed Scott’s mind about the gun issue in any way, as Obama said he hoped it would in his remarks.
“Nobody would think that anybody on a terror watch list should have a gun, right?” Scott said. (Tell that to the Republican senators who will inevitably vote against that legislation.) “We all can agree that we don’t want somebody who’s going to do something like that to be walking around with any weapons. But the Second Amendment didn’t kill anybody. This is ISIS. This is evil. This is radical Islam.”
Instead of talking about guns, Scott said he wanted to focus on destroying ISIS and keeping potentially dangerous people out of the country. Of course, in the case of the Orlando attack and many other mass shootings, the gunman was an American-born citizen.
“Yes, ISIS, terrorism could be to blame,” the anchor said, once again shifting the conversation back to guns, “but can you accept any responsibility for the, you know, gun laws here in Florida, the fact that it is easier to walk out of a gun store in a half an hour with an AR-15 that can kill more people faster than a pistol, yet it’s harder to get a pistol than an AR-15?”
“Let’s remember, the Second Amendment has been around for over 200 years,” Scott replied, neglecting to mention that assault weapons like the AR-15 were banned as recently as 2004. “That’s not what killed innocent people; evil killed innocent people.”
Finally, Brown asked Scott point-blank if he plans to make any changes to Florida’s gun laws in the wake of the Orlando attack.
“Whenever something like this happens, you always have a conversation about what you should do, you know, afterwards, right?” Scott asked in response. “And we're going to have that conversation. But let's have this conversation about how we're going to stop ISIS. I mean, where is that conversation? Where is the conversation stopping radical Islam?”
So, in other words, the answer is no.