In a rare move, the National Rifle Association is planning to send a spokesperson to a CNN town hall event to engage with survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting Wednesday evening.
Florida senators Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio will also attend the event, but there will be one very notable absence: Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
“With only three weeks left of our annual legislative session, Governor Rick Scott will be in Tallahassee meeting with state leaders to work on ways to keep Florida students safe, including school safety improvements and keeping guns away from individuals struggling with mental illness,” a Scott spokesperson said.
High school students who survived the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 people, including 14 students, have put the NRA at the top of their hit list. At a gun control rally in Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday, survivor Emma Gonzalez called out the organization in a passionate speech.
“To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you,” she said.
Other students have made specific jabs at Scott, even blaming him for the shooting.
“It’s my astute belief that the blood of those 17 people is on Rick Scott’s hands,” said Stoneman Douglas shooting survivor Cameron Kasky on MSNBC last Thursday.
Scott, a Republican, has an A+ rating from the NRA and is rumored to be gearing up to run for U.S. Senate in November. Scott has so far focused his comments about the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on mental health and the FBI’s failure to investigate the shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, despite receiving at least two complaints about his behavior.
Scott’s record as governor of Florida for the past eight years has been overwhelmingly pro-gun. His A+ NRA rating came after he made history in 2014 for passing more pro-gun laws in one term than any other Florida governor in history. In 2017, he signed a law changing Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law to require prosecutors to convince a judge that a shooter did not feel threatened in order to move forward with a firearm case.
Gun control groups are using the renewed focus on the issue to attack Scott’s gun record. A political action committee founded by former Republican Arizona Congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabrielle Giffords began running an ad in Florida on Tuesday criticizing Scott’s vigorous support for a 2011 bill that made it illegal for doctors to ask patients if they have guns in their home. A federal appeals court found the law unconstitutional last year.
Scott said he would present a legislative proposal to address issues related to the shooting by Friday.