Senator and former Governor Rick Scott on Thursday criticized the bipartisan-crafted gun reform bill making its way through the Senate, claiming that it falls short of gun legislation passed in Florida under his administration.
Scott, one of 34 lawmakers to vote no on the measure, referred to the legislation as “hastily drafted” and claims that its writing includes weak language on protecting due process and a provision to automatically restore gun rights to convicted domestic abusers.
“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 common-sense legislation that follows the action Florida took after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018,” said Scott in a statement on Thursday. “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 in 2018 signed into law a set of new gun control provisions including raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 from 18. The legislation also permits the arming of some teachers if both the local school district and local sheriff’s department agree, while counties opting out of the provision to arms teachers could redirect those funds to hire more school officers.
The appropriation includes more than $69 million for mental health assistance in schools and $98 million for hardening the security of school buildings. Additional provisions of the law included banning the sale or possession of bump fire stocks, giving law enforcement officers greater power to seize weapons and ammunition from those deemed mentally unfit, and additional funding for armed school resource officers.
Now, Scott is lambasting the fashioning of the Senate bill, citing a lack of Republican input as well as its “soft of crime” stance, referring to the firearm restoration language included in the bill.
“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,” continued Scott. “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.”
The Florida Senator goes on to explain his vote against the bill, noting that it “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.”
Scott also noted that lawmakers were given just over an hour to read through the bill before being asked to vote, a frustration shared by fellow state Senator Marco Rubio, who took to national television to proclaim that members of the Senate were expected to read through 80 pages of the bill before voting an hour and fifteen minutes later.
“We were supposed to go over 80 pages on an issue that implicates Second Amendment rights, the constitutional right of Americans, so I think it deserves a little bit more reading,” Rubio told Newsmax on Wednesday. “It may turn out to be the greatest bill in the world, and it may turn out to be the worst.”
Like Scott, Rubio voted no on the Senate bill.
On Thursday morning the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a long-standing New York handgun law that mandated individuals seeking a license to carry a gun outside their homes to demonstrate cause for doing so.
In a 6 to 3 decision, the justices ruled that requiring a particular need for carrying a gun infringed on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
“We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the court opinion. “That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self defense.”