A CNN host on Friday repeatedly shifted an interview with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R.) on the Islamic State-inspired terrorist attack on a gay Orlando nightclub away from terrorism to discuss gun control instead, even asking if Scott himself could be responsible for the attack because of his state’s gun laws.
Pamela Brown continued to press Scott about Florida’s gun laws and if he is now willing to reconsider his stance on gun control after meeting with families of the victims.
“President Obama has been very outspoken against gun control opponents, and he said he dares them to meet with the victims and see if that doesn’t change their views on gun control. Has it changed your views at all – this experience, meeting with the victims, and the fact that it’s easier to walk out with an AR-15 in the state of Florida than a handgun?” Brown asked.
“Nobody would think that anybody on a terror watch list should have a gun, right? We all can agree that we don’t want somebody who’s going to do something like that to be walking around with any weapons. But the Second Amendment didn’t kill anybody. This is ISIS. This is evil. This is radical Islam,” Scott responded.
Scott went on to say that he does not believe the United States is currently focusing enough on defeating ISIS.
“We had Steven Sotloff, a journalist beheaded in 2014. And he was from Miami. Now we have  people slaughtered right here. When are we going to say to ourselves as a country, enough is enough? Let’s focus on destroying ISIS,” he added.
Brown acknowledged that terrorism could be responsible for this attack but asked Scott himself if he is responsible because of his state’s gun laws.
“My law enforcement sources, though, tell me that while ISIS may have played a role, there were other factors at play that he recently became radicalized,” Brown said. “So, again, my question is: Yes, ISIS, terrorism could be to blame for this, but can you accept any responsibility for the gun laws here in Florida? The fact that it is easier to walk out of a gun store in a half hour with an AR-15 that can kill more people faster than a pistol. Yet it’s harder to get a pistol than an AR-15.”
“Let’s remember, the Second Amendment has been around for over 200 years. That’s not what killed innocent people; evil killed innocent people,” Scott said.
The governor said there will be a time to have a conversation about how to make cities and states safer, but the focus now must be on ISIS.
“Let’s have a conversation about how we destroy ISIS. Where’s that conversation?” Scott asked.
He then described a phone conversation he had with the White House after the Paris attacks last November during which the Obama administration told him they would not share information on Syrian refugees who they were allowing in the state of Florida.
“I am responsible for the public safety of the 20 million people in my state, the 100 million tourists, and you have information about somebody you’re moving to my state and you won’t share it. That’s wrong,” Scott said.
Brown tried one final time to shift the conversation to gun control.
“Understandably that’s frustrating. Just to put a button on this, in the wake of any tragedy, you learn. Lessons are learned, no doubt. Hopefully, there will be changes there in your view. But will you push for any changes in the gun laws in Florida?” Brown asked.
After Scott responded that the conversation must now be about countering ISIS and radical Islam, Brown asked how the government can stop someone like the Orlando shooter who was radicalized through ISIS propaganda over the Internet.
“Destroy ISIS,” Scott responded. “The first thing you do, go to the core. This is caused by ISIS being there. What are we doing to stop them?”
Brown then pivoted the conversation away from ISIS again, to ask Scott if he believes the Orlando attack was a hate crime against the LGBT community, as the FBI has said it is in addition to a terrorist act.
“This is evil, and they targeted the gay community. They targeted the Hispanic community. Without even meeting with the families, look at the names,” Scott said.