Gun control not the hot-button issue many expected – except in one race

Lawyers, guns and money have been a weave in the fabric of Florida politics for decades, a state of 21 million people where nearly 2 million residents have concealed carry permits, earning it the nickname, the “Gunshine State.”

But after mass shootings in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Parkland since June 2016, gun control advocates sensed a shift in support for more firearms restrictions, even among a significant component of the state’s Republicans.

In the weeks after the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, which occurred while the legislature was in session, that emerging trend seemed evident when the GOP-controlled House and Senate approved imposing a three-day waiting period for most purchases of long guns, raised the minimum age for buying those weapons to 21, and banned the possession of bump stocks.

Despite vocal opposition from the National Rifle Association and other gun-owners’ rights organizations, Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed off on the new gun control laws – a potentially dangerous move politically considering he would soon declare his candidacy to unseat three-time incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson in the U.S. Senate.

In the campaigns leading to August’s primaries, gun control was a featured topic, particularly in the gubernatorial campaigns where Republican candidates Ron DeSantis, with an ‘A’ rating from the NRA, and Alan Putman, an A+ rating, disavowed the legislature’s new gun control laws and reiterated their support for gun-owners’ rights.

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