ORLANDO – Florida Gov. Rick Scott was among the officials greeting President Barack Obama when Air Force One touched down yesterday, but they don’t have much in common politically here in the wake of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Whereas the president has called for gun-control legislation, the governor prefers to keep the focus on rooting out terrorism, saying moments ago during a CNN interview that “The Second Amendment didn’t kill anyone.”
Pressed repeatedly regarding whether the massacre would cause him to rethink gun laws, Scott said, “This is ISIS. This is evil. This is radical Islam. When are we going to say to ourselves as a country, let’s focus on destroying ISIS?”
He said he did not discuss those points with Obama yesterday.
“Yesterday wasn’t about politics,” said Scott, who said he has spent time with families of the shooting victims, attended some viewings and plans to attend funerals in coming days.
A weary sounding Obama addressed gun reform legislation Thursday after spending time comforting the grieving and laying flowers at a downtown memorial site.
“Unfortunately, our politics have conspired to make it as easy as possible for terrorists or just a a disturbed individual to buy extraordinarily powerful weapons, and they can do so legally,” he said. “This debate needs to change.”
He called out those who defend the need for Americans to be able to legally purchase high-powered assault weapons like the one used in the attack, saying they “should meet these families and explain why that makes sense. They should meet with the Newtown (Conn.) families, whose children would now be finishing fifth grade.”
He quoted one of the doctors he’d met with in heralding the heroics of first responders, police officers, health care professionals and others who sprang to action after the shootings: “After the worst of humanity reared its evil head, the best of humanity came roaring back.”
But that’s not enough, Obama said.
“If we’re honest with ourselves, if in fact we want to show the best of our humanity, we’re all going to have to work together, at every level of government, across political lines, to do more to stop killers ho want to terrorize us,” he said, vowing “relentless” efforts against terrorist groups like ISIS, to whom Orlando shooter Omar Mateen had pledged allegiance. “The last two terrorist attacks on our soil – Orlando and San Bernardino (Calif.) – were homegrown, carried out, it appears, not by external plotters, not by vast networks or sophisticated cells, but by deranged individuals warped by the hateful propaganda that they had seen over the Internet, then we’re going to have to do more to prevent these kinds of events from occurring.”
Scott champions a focus on terrorism, not gun purchases.
“The Second Amendment’s been around for 200 years,” he said during the CNN interview. “The Second Amendment didn’t kill anybody. Let’s have a conversation about how we destroy ISIS?”