Florida Political Leaders Offer A Range Of Responses To Newtown School Massacre

Dec 18, 2012

THE WEAPON: Is banning rifles such as this model, similar to the one used at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a good idea?

Florida leaders are expressing themselves, although not always clearly, after the elementary school massacre in Newtown last week.

Some Florida Democrats, including Tampa U. S. Rep. Kathy Castor, are calling for new restrictions on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.

DENNIS BAXLEY: Ocala lawmaker says someone else with a gun might have stopped the killing.
Credit myfloridahouse.gov

Congressman Rich Nugent, a  Republican and former sheriff from Brooksville, says more gun control would be far less useful than identifying and treating mental illness.

And Gov. Rick Scott told the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times it's still too early to react and the best use of time is to care for the victim families of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In Tallahassee, the Herald/Times heard from one lawmaker that the best answer may be more guns.

Rep. Dennis Baxley, chair of the legislative committee that will hear the bills that would regulate firearms, said allowing more people to carry guns will prevent future shootings. The Ocala Republican said prohibiting guns at schools made people less safe.

“If you empower someone, they will and they can deter a shooter,” Baxley said.

When asked which mass shootings were deterred by someone carrying a gun, Baxley said he didn’t know. He said he reads emails that said assailants were stopped by people with guns.

Baxley has not filed any gun bills for the legislative session that begins March 5.

Support for new gun laws has not risen after other mass shootings and the National Rifle Association spent more than 10 times as much on lobbying as gun control groups in 2011 and the first three quarters of 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.