Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has spent this week attending the funerals of the victims of the weekend’s massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando — the deadliest ever committed by a single shooter in U.S. history. But when asked by CNN Friday morning about the role Florida’s lax gun laws played in the murders, he refused to answer. Scott instead called for police surveillance of refugees and other immigrants, despite the fact that the gunman was a U.S. citizen born in Queens, New York.
“When you come into our country, this is our country. Why are you coming here?” he said, stumbling over his words. “Then if we do that to somebody, and allow them in, why not share it with local law enforcement?”
Scott then recounted a recent demand he made of President Obama’s administration that had no connection whatsoever to the attack in Orlando: “If you allow Syrian refugee in my state, will you share that information with me, the background checks? They said no. Come on. I’m responsible for the public. Give me a break.”
Though Orlando shooter Omar Mateen allegedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a 911 call during the shooting, the CIA announced this week that they have found no evidence he had any ties to the terrorist group. Instead, more evidence has surfaced that Mateen was deeply conflicted about his own sexuality; though known for homophobic rants, he had visited the gay nightclub regularly and had profiles on gay dating apps.
Mateen was able to legally buy a gun in Florida just days before the attack, despite having previously been on an FBI terrorist watch list. He was one of thousands of people suspected of terrorism who legally purchased firearms over the past few years alone, thanks to a loophole in federal law.
Yet the fact that Mateen was a U.S. citizen has not stopped many Republicans politicians from blaming immigrants and refugees for putting the country at risk.
Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump had a similar response to the mass shooting, at first mistakenly calling Mateen an immigrant, then clarifying that his parents were immigrants from Afghanistan. Trump has backed a conspiracy theory that President Obama is intentionally allowing Muslim immigrants into the U.S knowing that they will commit atrocities.