Rick Scott has signed a law raising the age to buy a gun in Florida. But now he opposes doing the same at the federal level

“If you look at the federal government, nothing seems to have happened there,” Scott said while signing the measure, which was prompted by the murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida a few weeks prior. “You’re going to elect people, you expect them to represent you, to get things done.”

Prior to the new law, it was illegal in Florida for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase a handgun. Following the passage of the law, it became illegal for an individual in Florida to purchase a firearm – including long guns like the AR-15 – if they were under 21.

Scott’s statement is worth remembering now, as the country seeks to respond to the murder of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. Scott is now a US senator representing Florida after beating Democratic senator Bill Nelson in 2018. On Monday he had an exchange with CNN’s Manu Raju on whether or not the federal government should do what it did in Florida: raise the age to purchase long guns to 21.

Raju: What about raising the age at the federal level? I mean, until 21.

Scott: I think all this should be done at the state level.

Raju: What’s wrong with doing that at the federal level?

Scott: Because you can change laws more easily at the state level.

What is, well, interesting? Because in 2018, Scott lambasted the feds for its inaction on guns. And now he says he opposes raising the minimum age to buy long guns to 21 because that stuff is best left at the state level because “you can change laws more easily at the state level”.

What changed?

Well, Scott’s political situation.

In March 2018, Scott was facing two realities:

1) As governor, 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at a high school in his state.

2) He was about to announce his candidacy for the Senate. (Scott officially entered the Senate race in early April 2018.)

These twin facts meant that a) Scott had to act on the guns and b) he had to use the issue as part of the larger argument he was going to make that people like Nelson were part of a culture of Washington who simply did not understand. things done for the people they were meant to represent. Inherent in that argument was that Scott, as a two-term governor, got things done.

“I never planned to fit in, nor will I fit in in Washington,” Scott said in a video announcing his candidacy for the Senate. “It’s time to shake this place up. We don’t need another politician in Washington. It’s full of politicians, and that’s why it’s broke.”

Fast forward to today. Scott’s situation has changed considerably. He is now a senator. And not just the one who leads the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, but also the one who is very clearly interested in running for president as early as 2024.

Getting things done in Washington — especially on an issue like gun control — is no longer such a high priority for Scott. Instead, he wants to do what he can to game the Republican base nationwide, which remains skeptical about the need for further restrictions on gun rights.

Need more proof of Scott’s change of heart? “I’ll listen, but I’m not taking guns away from law-abiding Americans,” Scott said Monday, when asked about the possibility of backing a bipartisan Senate compromise on guns.

About Charles D. Goolsby

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