April 9, 2018 – Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, responded to longtime gun lobby champion Rick Scott’s announcement that he’s running for a United State Senate seat in Florida. While Governor Scott has recently backed limited measures to prevent dangerous people from accessing guns, he has a long history of siding with the gun lobby over public safety.
Peter Ambler, Giffords Executive Director:
“2018 will be remembered as the year voters in Florida stood up and said ‘enough.’ In the wake of the horrific tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School, Floridians stood with students and the Parkland community and began demanding that their politicians fulfill their basic responsibility to keep children and communities safe. They forced Governor Scott and a legislature that had complied with the gun lobby’s every wish to sign a new gun safety law that will save lives. But voters won’t soon forget that the bill Governor Scott signed is too little, too late.
“Under his watch, Florida experienced at least three mass shootings in just two years. After each one, the governor stood before the media to offer his thoughts and prayers, all the while rejecting the solutions that might have prevented the tragedies. And at the end of the day, Gov. Scott still stands with the gun lobby. That’s why the bill he signed into law would also bring more guns into our schools, an idea that parents, teachers, and students strongly oppose.
“Florida voters know we need courageous leaders in the United States Senate who are committed to addressing the nation’s gun violence crisis, not another politician that will serve as a rubber stamp on gun lobby policies. We stand ready to make sure Rick Scott’s record of failing Floridians on safety won’t be forgotten when voters head to the polls in November.”
Throughout his career as Governor, Rick Scott has a long history of standing with the gun lobby, including by:
- Supporting “Glocks vs Docs”: In 2011, with the strong backing of the National Rifle Association, Gov. Rick Scott signed House Bill 155: Privacy of Firearm Owners, also known informally as the “Glocks vs. Docs” bill. “Glocks vs. Docs” sought to prevent physicians from asking patients and patients’ parents about gun ownership and prohibited information about gun ownership from being entered into medical records. The bill was strongly opposed by state pediatricians, who viewed the question as a preventative measure against accidental gun deaths and to inform parents about safe gun storage.
- In 2017, following a legal battle that named the state of Florida and Gov. Rick Scott, the law was essentially overturned when the state declined to appeal a federal court ruling striking down much of the bill’s content.
- Preempting the will of Florida localites to regulate guns: The same year, Rick Scott signed HB 45: Regulation of Firearms and Ammunition, a state preemption bill to prevent localities from regulating guns and ammunition by, for example, instating waiting periods or prohibiting guns in parks, in their own backyards.
- Following Parkland, several Florida cities have named Scott and others in a lawsuit to overturn the state’s preemption law(s).
- Stating that he would support guns on college campuses: Also in 2011, Rick Scott said he would sign a bill that would lift the ban on guns on college campuses.
- Supporting concealed carry without a permit: In 2015, Rick Scott signed SB 290, legislation allowing for people to carry concealed guns without a permit during state emergencies and evacuations.
- Making concealed carry permits easier to get: Between 2012 and 2017, Rick Scott cut the cost of concealed carry permits three times.
- Making it harder to prosecute shooters: SB 128, which allows criminal defendants to claim immunity based on justified use force (“stand-your-ground”) and requires the prosecution to overcome that immunity to prosecute.
After the Parkland shooting, Giffords released a six-figure television ad calling out Florida Governor Rick Scott for repeatedly siding with the gun lobby over public safety. In particular, the ad points out that the Governor signed a bill into law that levied penalties against doctors for discussing gun safety with patients. In February 2017, the law was struck down by the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Physicians’ right to speak freely with patients about gun safety is a necessary element of providing good healthcare, especially when patients demonstrate a higher risk of suicide or live in homes with children.
Giffords is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives from gun violence. Led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, Giffords inspires the courage of people from all walks of life to make America safer.