The Crist Files: Charlie Crist and Guns…A Sorry History

As we continue our detailed look at the career of Governor Charlie Crist we shift our focus to guns and access to guns.

Governor Crist has indicated on any number of issues that he has “evolved” rapidly in his thinking while not being pinned down specifically on most matters. Crist claimed after Newtown that he is now in favor of restrictions on gun ownership. These would be the first such restrictions he has has favored in his long career of running for elective office. This flip-flop also happened just days after he registered as a Democrat. Let’s look at Crist’s history closely on issues of guns and gun safety.

Beginning in the State Senate in 1992, Crist compiled as pro-gun a record as possible. His scores from the NRA were that of a conventional conservative Republican, one who voted against the will of his urban district that stretched from Downtown St Petersburg to South Tampa. Crist voted more in line with the NRA than any other Pinellas County Republican legislator during this period even as his own Congressman Bill Young was supporting some of President Clinton’s gun control measures.

In 2004,  Attorney General Crist personally nominated  Marion P. Hammer the national NRA President to Florida’s Women’s Hall of Fame. She was inducted in December 2004 after being approved by Jeb Bush. Crist meanwhile used the gun issue to increase his bonafides with a GOP base  that otherwise may have questioned him. Crist would benefit directly from strong support NRA support in the 2006 Republican Primary for Governor. While many leading conservatives in Florida supported Tom Gallagher, whose track record of losing important statewide elections is second to none in state history, Crist was loudly supported by the NRA. Gallagher had moved to the right of Crist on several issues but still supported some minimal restrictions on gun ownership. Crist on the other hand did not support any such restrictions. The resulting primary rout reinforced the perception/fear among rank in file Republicans that gun control was more important than being conservative on any other issue. Crist’s strong pro-gun stands allowed him to win a conservative activist dominated primary with ease.

His record as Governor continued his long support of guns including the infamous “take your gun to work” legislation he publicly advocated and proudly signed into law. In the 2010 Senate Primary he consistently claimed he was to the right of Rubio on guns, The reality is both had A ratings from the NRA but that Rubio has allowed a compromise bill to go through the House when Speaker thus giving him a less than perfect score on the gun issue.

A full accounting of Crist’s pro-gun stands is listed below:


Senate Candidate Crist (1998):

  • “In one of his first high-profile gun battles, Crist blasted then Gov. Lawton Chiles’ last-minute effort to require criminal background checks and a waiting period for purchases made at gun shows in 1998.”
  • “Hammer[NRA] said Crist earned an “A” rating as a political newcomer”

Attorney General Crist:

  • “As attorney general, Crist nominated Marion P. Hammer, former president of the National Rifle Association, to the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame, and she was inducted in 2004. Hammer is also the longtime president of the state’s NRA affiliate Unified Sportsmen of Florida.”
    • Tampa Bay Times 9/6/12
  • “The National Rifle Association has endorsed Charlie Crist over Tom Gallagher in the Republican campaign for governor, a move that helps Crist shore up his conservative credentials even as Gallagher tries to campaign to the right of him. […] Gallagher “may be good now. He hasn’t always been good,” Hammer [NRA FL Lobbyist] said. “Charlie Crist has always been there.”
  • In his 2006 primary against Republican rival Tom Gallagher, Crist ran an ad calling Gallagher “anti-gun” and highlighting Crist’s endorsement from the NRA.
    • Tampa Bay Times 9/6/12

Governor Crist:

  • “He signed into law legislation that allowed 500,000 concealed weapons permit-holders to bring their guns to work”
  • “He vetoed a move by lawmakers to take $6 million out of the trust fund that pays for licensing gun owners and processing concealed weapons permits”
  • “The national Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms rewarded his efforts by bestowing him the title of “Gun Rights Defender of the Month” in July 2009.”
    • PolitiFact Florida 7/14/2010
    • “In 2010, just when it seemed that the NRA had nothing else to fight for, Hammer pushed for a bill preventing the Legislature from raiding the concealed weapons trust fund to cover budget shortfalls.  Then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist signed the bill and handed an appreciative Hammer a blue pen.  ”Marion,” Crist said at a 2010 bill-signing ceremony, “I want to thank you for doing so much to protect the Second Amendment.”
      • Tampa Bay Times 1/8/13


Senate Candidate Crist (2010):

  • “Gov. Crist has never wavered in his support of the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms.” From Charlie Crist’s campaign Website on Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
    • St. Petersburg Times 7/14/10
    • “PolitiFact had a hard time finding any instance where Crist refused to back gun rights. We scanned roughly 1,000 news articles that mentioned Crist and the words “bear arms,” “Second Amendment,” and “gun restrictions.””
      • St. Petersburg Times 7/14/10
  • “I am pro-gun, pro-family and I am anti-tax, and I always have been”
  • The NRA backed Crist over Rubio in the Republican primary.  NRA Florida Chief Marion Hammer said “At the time, he was a steadfast in his support of the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”
    • Tampa Bay Times Buzz Blog 12/20/12
  • “As recently as 2010, when Crist was running as a Republican for U.S. Senate, he accused rival Marco Rubio of being soft on guns and supporting a waiting period and background checks that were already in state law.”
  • Did not support Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court because “Judge Sotomayor would not strictly and objectively construe the Constitution and lacks respect for the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.”  Some called it a “strategic suck-up to radical Republicans” or a “crass political calculation.”
    • The Orlando Sentinel 7/21/09 and Sun Sentinel 7/31/09
  • Praised US Supreme Court decision (5-4) that no matter where you live in America you have the right to keep a handgun in your home.  “Gov. Crist is very pleased that the Supreme Court has reaffirmed our Second Amendment rights,” spokeswoman Michelle Todd said. “Respecting the Constitution is critical to the continued well-being of all Americans.”
    • Palm Beach Post 6/29/10
    • “Most recently, Crist’s campaign celebrated the Second Amendment in a Twitter message.” Pleased w the US Supreme Court’s decision today reaffirming our 2nd Amendment rights,” he tweeted on June 28 [2010], hours after the court ruled the Second Amendment gives all Americans a right to keep and bear arms for self-defense that trumps state and local laws.”
      • PolitiFact Florida 7/14/2010
      • His stance was reaffirmed by the NRA – “He has always throughout his career been a strong advocate for the Second Amendment and the rights of law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen, never voted against us, always voted with us as governor,” Marion Hammer said. “He signed every piece of legislation gun owners asked him to sign and vetoed every piece of legislation negatively impacting gun owners and sportsman that gun owners asked him to veto. He has an outstanding record of support.”
        • St. Petersburg Times 7/14/10

As Obama Supporter and aspiring Dem Gov. Candidate:

  • MSNBC host Chuck Todd reminded Crist during an interview that he once identified himself as “a pro-life, pro-gun conservative” – asking whether that’s still how he’d characterize himself, regardless of party. “Yes, I would,” said Crist.
    • MSNBC Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd 9/13/12

Days after registering as a Democrat:

  • “Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who throughout his long political career has been staunchly pro-gun rights, said Wednesday that after the Connecticut school slayings, he now backs controls.  He expressed support for a renewed assault weapons ban, a size limit on ammunition clips and tougher background checks.”
  • In response to Crist’s new stance, NRA Florida Chief Marion Hammer said “I’m not surprised that Charlie Crist is now joining the gun ban chant of anti-gun Democrats. Recently, Charlie Crist has been systematically turning his back on many things in which he has claimed to believe. He currently claims to be a deer hunter. I suspect that the only thing he has actually ever hunted is political office.”
    • Tampa Bay Times Buzz Blog  12/20/12


  1. Maybe you should stick to articles like this rather than that crap scandal stuff yesterday. This is real and needs to be addressed by Crist. The scandal stuff with that FSU frat bro of his is just an attempt to malign his character and I’m
    disgusted by it.


    1. After reading the whole Crist File so far, I Have to commend Kartik and his staff on the excellent work they have done. I wish the Corporate media had the balls to do as well, The comment section is good as well. The only problem I see is the gutless and spineless commentators that hide behind aliases. Your credibility is suspect. The Crist mantra is getting old. Charlies name is Mudd to true Democrats. Nan will have plenty of honest and caring name recognition and the money and endorsements will be through the roof as soon as Crist drops out or is soundly defeated in the primary. You heard it here, because I CARE.


  2. I have to give you guys credit for digging all this stuff up. However you do realize how much you’re hurting the party by doing this Charlie will be nominated regardless of what you do and we must be Rick Scott. Besides gun control is not popular. Especially in this state. I don’t think most Democrats in the state want anything to do with gun-control.


    1. The people who believe Charlie will suddenly loyally represent Democratic principles are the ones hurting the party. Sort of reminds me of a mistress believing the married man would never cheat on HER…


  3. Only spineless Democrats don’t want anything to do with gun control. There are many of us who would like to keep the public safe. Radical concept, I know.


  4. Concerned Democrat · ·

    Unfortunately and sadly “Gun Control” is a loosing issue in this state and nationwide as the Democrats and Barrack Obama found our after the massacre in NY and “thought” the time was right for legislation to control gun violence.

    They were defeated soundly.

    And to his credit, Charlie Crist did come out at some risk at the time and said that some form of gun control of assult weapons makes sense.

    Don’t go there…you can’t win.

    Also this digging up of Charlie’s Faults as you run a “banner ad” on your website supporting Nan Rich is a little disingenuous and prejudice.

    As much as I respect and defend your right to your freedom to print whatever you want, your overall game of trying to destroy Charlie Crist at all cost, totally ignores the fact that the vast majority of your loyal readers, like myself, see the much bigger picture that is:

    Nan Rich has NO chance of winning the Democratic nomination to the vast majority of Democrats who want to break the almost two decade old stranglehold on the Governor’s job.

    Because Charlie has the vast majority of not only the Democrats who want to win as a moderate Democrat, as opposed to your ultra liberal Progressive Nan Rich, bur Charlie, in poll after poll after poll, has shown that is is golden with the Independents, which as of all the latest research, is now the MAJORITY of the Country and the state, and THEY decide elections.

    Finally, you continued bashing of newly minted Democrat and as of Monday, Democratic nominee for Governor, will only gleefully help the pitiful Republican and our horrible Governor Scott make our lives more miserable


    1. Sharon Sjokvist Isern · ·

      Whoever wins the primary…be it Nan Rich or Crist..will win over Scott. I just prefer it be someone who has held Democratic progressive values for life and not just in the last year or so.

      People can change…I was a Republican and voted for Nixon and against Kennedy. My high school thesis was on Hitler Youth Groups and proposed that American groups based on similar indoctrination of my view of American values would help our nation. I was THAT conservative. That was 50 years ago. I went to college (Republicans even admit education is dangerous to their cause.) I got involved with Dr. King and civil rights and grew politically into a progressive. I was, and still am, against abortion, but am now for a woman’s choice. I am not in a position to choose for her. I was against artificial birth control until I had a child and knew I could not support a second child, so I went against my church and politics and began to advocate the availability of birth control to any woman. I could go on and on to chronicle my move from ultra conservative Republican to progressive Democrat…but I hope I have made a point that it is not so fast as feeling the hand of god on the road as Paul did…Unless God touched Charlie with His hand and enlightened him in a moment…..but , then, I suppose that is a possible explanation for such a rapid philosophical conversion.

      Now Charlie may have changed in the last year or so…..but I know my conversion from conservative Republican to progressive Democrat took quite a number of years…after 50 years I am still a fiscal conservative.


  5. I am a liberal on abortion, gay rights etc but NOT on guns.

    Until you’ve been faced with violent crime you don’t know how badly we need to be able to defend ourselves. I won’t let my family go unarmed and unprotected.

    Being liberal doesn’t mean you need to ban guns. It means the opposite. We believe in freedom of choice and freedom of expression. Having a concealed weapons permit for me is like my wife freedom to choose to abort a pregnancy. In a free society where we are all law abiding citizens but don’t need to be told what to do by moralists guns should be legal and prevalent.

    As for Crist I have no problem with his gun record. It matches mine. As for his record on pro-choice/pro-life I want to see that. I believe he is pro-life which means I cannot vote for him.


    1. Sharon Sjokvist Isern · ·

      I kind of agree that , as an earlier writer said, nobody will win in Florida on gun control. Personally, I have had a gun in my home three times: once when my partner planned to shoot his boss (i got rid of the gun and him.) The second time was when a friend accidentally shot my daughter. The third time was when I had to put my head between my partner’s head and his gun to prevent his suicide. I will never feel safe with a gun in my house, but won’t prevent you from having one in your house. I would , however, like you to tell me you have one before I visit…especially if you plan to drink a lot.


  6. Sorry, but today’s shooting at LAX again proves that something must be done. If you oppose sensible gun legislation, the blood is on your hands.


  7. This is very damning.

    Good work. I want Crist because Nan Rich cannot win but now I am not sure.

    This is really bad news.


  8. Democrats for Change · ·

    Hey keep these coming! The more you write things like this the more Crist appeals to the Center which controls elections in this state! Both the left represented by Nan Rich and the right represented by Rick Scott will lose this election.


    1. Yelllow Dog Democrat · ·

      Hey Susan Smith, Jeffery and Kartik:

      You guys can bitch and moan and complain about Charlie all you want till the cows come home but…

      Nan is not happening…

      Here is your REAL choice:

      Fall 2014…Primary is over…your choice is Democratic Nominee Charlie Crist vs Republican Incumbent Rick Scott…

      What are you guys going to do?


      1. Stay home just like everyone else who won’t be able to vote for either one.


      2. Sharon Sjokvist Isern · ·

        I won’t go as far as Barbie……Given no other choice, I will vote for Crist. Good lord, I would vote for my dog, Oliver, before voting for Scott. I think most of Florida is with me on that….Barbie….DO vote…just write in “Oliver.”


      3. New smyrna · ·

        Probably hold my nose and vote. But for who?


  9. You claim to be a good democrat but all you are doing is tearing down our party’s likely standard bearer and leader.

    It is you who is disloyal not all of us backing Crist actually trying to get a democrat elected.

    Nan Rich should drop out and support Crist in the interest if unity.


    1. Nan Rich should NOT drop out. Charlie Crist, if he really cared about the Democratic Party, would run for Congress in a Republican district, and show he is a Democrat by his VOTES. Then we can talk. I still blame him for Marco Rubio.


  10. Paid consultants don’t understand the volunteer mindset. Too bad.


    1. Progressive Engineer · ·

      I agree Susan it is clear the folks on here complaining about this blog damaging Crist have to be paid. Based upon many of the comments I think they usually work on the Republican side of the Isle. They seem to think the DEC’s should punish Kartik and the rest of us for presenting real information. That may be how the REC’s work but it is laughable that a DEC would be able to do anything like that. It is also evident that of the critics of this blog there are multiple names that have the same writing style. I guess the individual changes names and posts multiple times to make it sound like their viewpoint is more widespread. I do not think Charlie or his consultants have a clue about how the Democratic base works…


  11. I cannot believe this crook is running as a D.


  12. The Observer · ·

    I cannot figure what is worse, some of Charlie’s past political history or seeing him travel around with Burt Arronson constantly lurking just behind him.


  13. Dems in Action · ·

    It was said that Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles couldn’t get elected, but they did. The underdog has a way of beating the odds.


  14. Concerned Democrat · ·

    It’s great that Kartik teaches us all this ancient history because, as a History and Political buff myself, people need to learn from their mistakes or they will be doomed to repeat it.

    HOWEVER, today’s times are NOT ancient history. And we live in a much faster, ever changing, and much different world than we did just a few years ago.

    Everyone today has ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder – and cannot remember what they had for lunch yesterday.

    So the great history lesson here that Kartik has spent so much time and energy to devote to his candidate Nan Rich was all very nice and good, but it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans because, as good a Democrat as Nan is, she can’t win a multi-multi-muti-million dollar race in this state today with 20 million new Floridians who couldn’t name you who Rubin Askew or Lawton Chiles were if they had a gun to their heads!

    A “Walkin’ Lawton, who walked from Key West to Tallahassee in the “olden” days, would get about 30 seconds in today’s news and be forgotten in about a minute. But it was Lawton’s longtime statewide connections that raised him the millions of dollars (at $100 a clip) to be the first actual “BUNDLERS” in Florida that raised the millions he needed to pre-cable TV days…that Nan Rich does not have.

    People also forget that Bob Graham’s Florida pioneer farming family owned about half the Everglades, and was and is still extremely wealthy, and pumped about a quarter million dollars a week into his “come from behind dark-horse” campaign to win statewide as Governor in 1978…money that Nan Rich doesn’t have.

    And according to all the latest polls, for the first time in US history, over 52 % of people now consider themselves INDEPENDENT not Democrat or Republican.

    So all this crap I hear about how the Republicans are going to “punish” Charlie and how the Democrats don’t trust Charlie,,,IT’S ALL CRAP! If you line up 10 people on the street right now…and ask them these silly questions…the response you’ll get is sadly that nobody cares.

    That’s why warm, smiley, friendly, positive, perma-tan Governor Charlie is cleaning up in the polls and will be your next Governor of Florida.

    So See Kartik and Susan, it’s not about the “consultants”…it’s all about the money…to buy TV and radio and mail and phone callers and those paid…yes paid…”volunteers” to knock on doors and drag us lazy Democrats and Independents to vote.

    Because, you see, even though you all may think that Obama had this great groundswell of volunteer support. It was actually the billion dollars he raised to PAY staff to do the actual work to drag those lazy Democrats to vote.

    And those millions are what Charlie Crist is going to have…with Obama’s blessing of course.


    1. We actually have not made an endorsement in the Governors race and because we now have another major Democrat in the race, the Nan Rich ad has been removed. It was a courtesy as for the duration of the time the ad ran she was the only Democrat running.

      Regarding the history, Graham came from behind to beat Bob Shevin and Chiles was rejected by large amounts of the party establishment when he crushed Nelson. Much of your commentary is based on assumptions that really don’t apply.

      Midterm elections are turnout wars. Why do the GOP keep winning every race in this state? Because the conservative base of the party is excited and turns out.


  15. Democrats for Change · ·

    The left of our party is never going to be satisfied I must we replicate the tea party on the left.


  16. Florida Voter · ·

    Nan Rich’s candidacy is a joke. She’s too old, too ethnic, too regional and too liberal to be elected Governor of Florida. Sorry but it is the cold hard truth.

    However, Charlie Crist is a deeply flawed candidate with so many potential problems if he gets the nomination it is too lengthy to spell out here. Let’s just put it this way: The GOP cannot wait to face him next Fall.

    Again our party has FAILED in its biggest test – candidate recruitment.

    Hello, Allison Tant, what exactly do you do on the job?

    Florida Voter


  17. Charlie Christ can go to hell on his pro-gun / anti-gun flip-flop. What a schister! He goes to work for ambulance chaser, John Morgan and all of the sudden becomes a democrat, anti-gun, pro-dope candidate for governor. When a damn titty-bar drunkard can buy-off a former 1-term governor looser and convince him to run for another term based on everything he stood against while governor, YOU KNOW THE DEVIL HAS FLORIDA IN HIS SIGHTS.


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