BY BUDDY NEVINS
There is one leading state Democrat who is on wrong side of the gun control.
You can’t really blame Charlie Crist. Until two years ago, he was a conservative Republican.
Crist’s pro-gun past will be a hard sell in a Democratic primary for governor.
Curbing Florida’s runaway appetite for increasingly deadly guns could become an issue in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting.
Will it remain an issue two years from now? It will not be the top concern of voters, but it will be one more way an opponent can highlight that Crist used to be a leading Republican.
Crist’s history of pro-gun votes and statements looks bad in a Democratic primary against almost any other candidate.
Politifact Florida in July 2010 examined Crist’s claim in the Republican U. S. Senate primary that he “never wavered in his support of the Second Amendment, the right to bare arms.” Here is what they wrote:
“PolitiFact had a hard time finding any instance where Crist refused to back gun rights.”
Take 1988. Crist was outspoken against Gov. Lawton Chiles’ proposal to require criminal background checks and a waiting period for purchases at gun shows. He called the Chiles plan “moves that would disarm our law-abiding citizens.”
A few years later as Attorney General, Crist nominated NRA champion Marion Hammer to the state’s Women’s Hall of Fame. Her picture now hangs in the state Capitol as “a nationally renowned gun rights advocate and has been an active supporter for the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
In his run for governor in 2006, a prominent Crist ad called Republican rival Tom Gallagher “anti-gun” and noted that Crist was endorsed by the NRA.
Once in the governor’s mansion, Crist signed into law the NRA supported “Bring Your Gun To Work” bill. It allowed employees to bring their guns to their workplace, as long as the gun remained in the car.
His pro-gun work earned Crist an A rating from the NRA. He was a Republican then.
Now Crist is a Democrat. Now he must win the support in a primary of the most committed Democratic voters.
Ten years of fiercely supporting the NRA and its vision of expanded gun rights is hard to hide. It will provide plenty of ammo for his Democratic rivals.