Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) lashed out Thursday at an audience member at a news conference who linked his policies to a recent mass shooting at a dollar store in Jacksonville, where three blacks were killed.
DeSantis, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, spoke in Jacksonville about his stance against stricter public health measures as COVID-19 cases rise. When he opened the room for questions, a man whose name has not been identified but who identified himself as a black veteran said he believed the governor had supported policies that allowed “immature people” access to firearms. Those weapons, the man said, “caused the deaths of the people who were killed a couple of weeks ago.”
“I am not going to allow myself to be accused of committing criminal activity,” the governor said. “I’m not going to accept that.”
The interrogator later said that DeSantis had “allowed people to hunt people like me.”
“Oh, that’s nonsense,” DeSantis responded. “That’s silly”.
The man was escorted out of the room, NBC News reported. reported.
TO white gunman who had swastikas painted on his rifle opened fire at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville on August 26. Earlier, the gunman had parked at a historically black university, but he sped away when a campus police officer approached his car.
Critics have pointed out that DeSantis’s efforts have made it easier to carry firearms in the state, and the governor was booed at a vigil for the victims of last month’s shooting. Democrats have also denounced the governor’s efforts to attack so-called “woke” culture, ban teaching about the pervasive effects of racism in America and end diversity programs in schools.
DeSantis pushed back on such criticism Thursday amid the man’s comments at the news conference.
“We have done more to support law enforcement in this state than anyone in the entire United States,” the governor said. “The idea that we don’t support security is absurd.”