1. Opinion

Rick Scott can’t say whether there are too many guns. The answer is yes. | Daniel Ruth

The senator dodges the question and sticks to the GOP mantra to avoid angering the NRA.
Times Columnist Dan Ruth. [Times file]
Published Sep. 6

As is his wont, Sen. Rick Scott likes to trot out his Navy baseball cap in times of worry and woe, perhaps channeling his inner John Paul Jones. Very spiffy.

So there was the former governor last week chatting with Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” ostensibly to discuss how bad Hurricane Dorian was, which the ever insightful senator concluded was indeed very bad.

Todd also took the opportunity to ask Scott about the latest mass murder of seven people in Odessa, Texas, by another unhinged shooter with too many guns and not enough brains.

But then Todd sprung an obviously trick question on the senator: “Do you think we have too many guns in circulation? And if you do, how do we get them out of circulation?”

Since there were 53 murders as the result of mass shootings in August, including the carnage in El Paso and Dayton, it would not have been unreasonable to stake out a bold stand and admit that yes, perhaps there’s just a smidgen of too many guns.

Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio office, noted the FBI now investigates an active shooter incident on an average of every two weeks, suggesting ever so subtly that, yes, there might very well indeed be an excess in guns across the land.

Alas, Commodore Scott was unmoved, flummoxed perhaps by the obvious. Instead Scott insisted that tut-tut more than 300 million guns in circulation across the country is not a problem at all, especially if you love and adore the Second Amendment and the National Rifle Association.

Damn the body bags! Full inertia ahead!

Instead, Scott said he wants to protect the gun rights of “law-abiding citizens,” conveniently overlooking the fact an overwhelming number of mass shootings are committed by “law-abiding citizens,” who came by their weapons perfectly legally.

Rather Scott, much like so many of his NRA groveling lemmings, defaulted to the growing Republican mantra that the real public safety issue here is crazy people with guns. “I want to focus on the people that have mental illness. That’s my focus,” the NRA’s first mate told Todd.

What might we call this canard, wrapped in balderdash, enshrouded in piffle? The Hunt for a Red Herring?

The “We need to do something about mentally ill people with guns” has become the equivalent of the “I’m not a scientist” to justify doing nothing about the bloodshed and growing danger of climate change.

Let’s assume Scott and Senate Majority Leader Machine Gun Mitch McConnell were remotely serious about addressing the nexus of gun violence and mental illness. What would you have to do?

To be truly effective you would have to impose a system where every person who owns a gun and/or wants to purchase a weapon would have to subject themselves to a thorough, comprehensive and time-consuming mental health evaluation by a team of trained and licensed professional psychiatrists and psychologists, to make absolutely sure the owner of the weapon in question is a perfectly balanced individual who poses zero threat to society.

No doubt such a system would cost billions of dollars and delay the time it takes to obtain a weapon. Would the NRA support mental health evaluations? Would President Donald Trump, who has never met a gun issue he couldn’t duck? Would Machine Gun Mitch? Would very Petty Officer Scott?

Chuck Todd asked the wrong question of Swabbie Scott. The more pointed subject would have been, do we have too many gutless, on-the-take-from-the NRA pols who are afraid to tackle an issue that might cripple their electoral ambitions by simply doing the right thing?

And Scott’s answer to that would have been one of his perfected “Hummana-hummana-hummana” moments.

Pay no mind to all those victims. Pay no mind to the shattered families. Pay no mind to the convulsed communities. Tribute must be paid to the money changers of murder.

If anything deserves a “Duh!’ it is the question: Are there too many guns in America?

Let’s make it as simple as possible for the Horatio Hornblower of the Beltway.

Last weekend Derek Omasta, 26, was shot to death in downtown Clearwater during a dispute over a parking space. A parking space. Omasta is dead. And his alleged killer, Deshon Powers, could go to prison for life – all because of a parking space.

Yes, Sen. Scott, we have too many guns, at least by a factor of one.


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