Wolf Blitzer, hardly the most outwardly opinionated anchor at CNN, asked Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) a very simple question on Thursday. How is it that the 19-year-old shooter in Parkland, Florida, could legally buy a military-style AR-15 weapon when he can’t even buy a beer?
As Blitzer pointed out, it’s “hard for a lot of us to believe” that Florida laws don’t even allow handgun sales to anyone under 21 but it is perfectly legal for an 18-year-old to purchase an AR-15 with no waiting period.
“We are going to look at all these things to figure out, you know, what works and is not working,” Scott said, speaking by phone from Florida. “Our primary goal, as I bring everybody together, is to say these kids are going to be safe. So we’re going to look at all these issues to figure out how can we make sure these kids are safe and also make sure that people that are struggling with mental illness do not have a gun.”
Unsatisfied with that non-answer to his question, Blitzer said, “Let me phrase it another way, because this is really shocking to so many of us, governor. He wasn’t old enough to buy a beer legally in your state, you’ve got to be 21 years old. So why is it in Florida that he could buy an assault weapon at the age of 18?”
Scott called the question “legitimate” but still would not answer it, only saying he wants to make sure “we don’t trample on anybody’s constitutional rights.”
Pressing on, Blitzer said that if the shooter had not had an assault rifle with multiple magazines, he never would have “been able to kill as many people” as he did. “So I just want you to tell our viewers you’re going to take action as the governor of Florida to change this to prevent this from happening again for someone, only 18, clearly with a history, this individual, just going into a store and buying an assault weapon.”
“Wolf, we have to,” Scott said, saying he is going to do “everything” he can to “make sure this never happens again.” But again, he would not commit to even supporting a change in the gun laws in his state.
As the governor started laying out the difficulty of passing legislation, Blitzer cut him off, saying, “It’s not that complicated. You’ve just got to pass some new laws to make it more difficult for 18-year-olds to buy assault weapons, right?”
By the end of the interview, after Blitzer had forced Scott to listen to the urgent pleas of a grieving mother for action on gun violence, the anchor got one tiny concession out of his guest.
“Everything is on the table,” Scott said, finally. “I'm going to look at every way that we can make sure our kids are safe."
“Including gun control?” Blitzer asked.
“Wolf, I’m going to do—it’s a lot of things,” Scott said, starting to hedge again. “It’s looking at, you know, who should have guns. Should individuals with mental illness have guns? What can we do to create more safety in our schools? What can we do to make it easier for our children and make them feel comfortable to report things? It’s not one thing. It’s all these things put together.”