Demands for Congress to enact gun safety measures started again this weekend after a gunman killed seven people and wounded 25 more in a shooting rampage along a west Texas highway on Saturday, bringing the number of victims of mass killings by guns in the U.S. to 53 in August.
Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday morning, Florida U.S. Senator Rick Scott said he is “hopeful” that gun reform legislation is possible when Congress returns to Washington next week. But the only measure he said he supports is a “red-flag” law that allows police, acting with court approval, to temporarily seize weapons from people considered to be a danger to themselves or others.
While governor, Scott helped get Florida pass a red flag law last year after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Scott was governor when a mass shooter killed 49 and injured 53 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando – at the time the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history.
“The biggest thing we did was this red flag law that says if you are threatening harm to yourself or somebody else, through due process, through the court system, you don’t have access to any weapons, not just a gun, but any weapons,” Scott told CNN’s Dana Bash Sunday
Since the law went into effect a year and a half ago, Florida courts have approved some 2,500 risk protection orders, more than any other state, according to NPR. Most Congressional Democrats are on board with enacting similar federal legislation, but also want more restrictions, including expanded background checks for gun purchases.
A national Quinnipiac poll released last week shows 93 percent support for universal background checks, and 60 percent support for a ban on assault-style type weapons.
“There’s lots of proposals out there. I’m going to review all of them,” Scott said on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, before immediately pivoting back towards his support for red flag laws.
“I believe in the Second Amendment,” Scott told host Chuck Todd. “I don’t want to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. I want to focus on the people that have mental illness. That’s my, that’s my focus.”
In addition to the red-flag measure, the gun safety bill that Scott advocated for and the Florida Legislature passed last year included raising the legal age for firearm purchases to 21 years old, creating a three-day waiting period for gun purchases and allowing for some trained school employees to be armed.
Two Democrats in the Florida Legislature have now introduced a proposal that would expand the state’s red-flag law to allow family members – not just law enforcement — have the power to seek risk protection orders for relatives they believe pose a danger and need to have their gun removed.
Democrats in the House of Representatives passed two bills in February that expanded background checks on gun purchases. Only eight Republicans in the House supported those measures, and three of them were from Florida – Vern Buchanan from Sarasota, Brian Mast from the Treasure Coast area, and Mario Diaz-Balart of South Florida.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart voted for the House universal background check bill, H.R. 8, in February.