Three questions for Darren Soto

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At a press conference yesterday, Darren Soto called for a special legislative session to close the “terror loophole” in the aftermath of the Orlando Shooting.

Soto refused to take questions from the public at the event – which is a shame, because voters deserve to know the truth about Soto’s record on guns. But the only time Soto seems to want to talk about his record on guns is when he doesn’t get asked the tough questions – like at press conferences where he sets the terms of engagement and in fundraising emails to his supporters.

There are three very important questions that Soto should have to answer.

Soto wants a special session now, but he refused to support his Democratic colleagues in calling for a special session in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s tragic murder in 2013.

This raises the first question: Why did Soto vote against holding a special session to address Florida’s infamous Stand Your Ground law after Martin’s death?  

In 2013, Democratic state legislators had to fight for a special session to address gun violence in the wake of Martin’s death. On August 13, 2013, thirty-two Democratic lawmakers wrote to Florida’s Secretary of State demanding a vote on whether a special session should be held on making changes to the “stand your ground” law. Senator Darren Soto’s name was conspicuously absent from the list.

Soto skipped a vote to call a special session on the Stand Your Ground law. According to Senate rules, a non-vote is the same as a “no” vote. Soto was one of only three lawmakers to skip the August 20, 2013 vote.

Soto not only refused to call for a special session to address the Stand Your Ground law – he also stood with the NRA in voting for an expansion of Stand Your Ground – which raises a second question: Why did Soto vote to expand Florida’s infamous Stand Your Ground law after the deaths of Martin and Jordan Davis?

As recently as last year, Soto voted for a bill to strengthen Florida’s infamous “Stand Your Ground” gun law (SB 344). Despite pleas from Lucy McBath, the mother of Davis, a black teenager killed in Jacksonville in a 2012 dispute over loud music, Soto voted for the bill, which the NRA deemed a “must-pass priority.”

And finally, one last question: Just how far does Soto’s loyalty to the NRA extend?

It seems that Soto’s loyalty to the NRA transcends state lines: he was one of only four Florida Democrats who signed onto a 2009 Supreme Court Amicus Brief opposing the Chicago handgun ban.

Why would a Florida lawmakercare to join a pro-gun argument in a court case stemming from legislation in Illinois? Voters can draw their own conclusions, but I bet the answer comes down to three simple letters: NRA.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.