Florida Governor Rick Scott is breaking from his usual pro-gun stances with new views on guns in schools.
Scott is an NRA-supported governor and Trump ally but disagreed with both on Friday, saying that he does not believe teachers should be armed and that he supports raising the minimum gun ownership age to 21. When pressed, he said that he supports raising the age for all firearms, not just assault weapons. The NRA does not support that measure. In a press conference, Scott said he “[disagrees] with arming teachers” and that “[his] focus is on bringing in law enforcement. I think you need to have individuals who are trained, well trained.” President Trump has suggested arming teachers.
The Florida governor also outlined a number of other initiatives aimed at curbing mass shootings. He announced plans to “completely ban the purchase or ban of bump stocks.” Bump stocks were a hot issue after Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock used the devices in a massacre that left over 50 people dead. The push to ban the devices gained steam after Vegas and even enjoyed NRA support before eventually slowing in Washington. After the Florida shooting Trump renewed the call for a ban on the devices.
Scott pushed for measures that would keep “violent or mentally ill” individuals from purchasing weapons.
The latest announcement signals a change from Scott’s usual pro-gun rhetoric. He’s an NRA favorite and enjoys an A+ rating from the organization thanks to a number of moves he’s made as governor of Florida. He opposed stricter background checks, advocated for “stand your ground” laws and cut the costs of secured carry permits.
There’s a lot of speculation that Scott will run for a Senate seat in November (he is also up for reelection as Governor). If he decides to throw his hat in the Senate race, he’ll have to knock off three-term senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat. During Friday’s press conference, Scott criticized Nelson’s gun policies, telling reporters that the senator has “never done anything on gun safety or school safety.”
In response to Scott’s attacks, Nelson accused the governor of listening to the NRA instead of school shooting survivors and parents.