At first blush, Sen. Darren Soto joining other Orlando-area lawmakers in calling for a Special Session to implement new restrictions on firearms purchases make perfect sense.
After all, he’s a young Democrat from an urban Central Florida district who occasionally makes liberal noises when it comes to LGBT rights, women’s access to heath care, and other relatively safe social issues.
So it stands to reason that in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre that has left Orlando traumatized and angry, Soto would take off the gloves and stand up for common-sense gun control measures like those proffered by the Democratic federal lawmakers Soto wishes to join.
Just one thing, though: Soto’s record on guns is about as conservative as a Democrat can get away with, and even to the right of many moderate Republicans.
In an appeal to supporters, Soto — who’s running for Congress to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson in CD 9 — had tough words for the NRA, asking folks to help him “stand up to the gun lobby” by signing his petition to ban gun sales to anyone on the federal government’s “no-fly” and terrorist watch lists.
But only last year, Soto was singled out for praise by NRA past president and a lion of the Tallahassee gun lobby Marion Hammer for voting for strengthening the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law.
No surprise for a Democrat right-leaning Sunshine State News called “about as good as conservatives can hope for” and “an ally on economic and fiscal issues more often than not” and which the left-leaning Florida Squeeze called “the poster child for conservative Democrats who seek higher office by running in safe Democratic seats backed by Republican money and the support of large elements of a bipartisan political establishment.”
Given his predilection for supporting other conservative causes, like charter school expansion, Soto often postures as standing with, Soto’s pro-gun stance shouldn’t surprise anyone.
But to stage a sudden about-face on the issue to capitalize on a tragedy? That’s too much opportunism to countenance even from a slippery pol like Soto.
See below for screen grabs that put Soto’s remarkable reversal on guns into perspective.