Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said during a campaign stop in Miami Beach on Friday that, were he elected again, he would work to pass gun-control measures in response to deadly shootings such as the recent gun violence in Miami-Dade County.
“One of the most common-sense things that we can do is ban assault weapons,” Crist said. “It is hard for me to imagine why we already don’t do that.”
Crist, currently a St. Petersburg congressman, mentioned other gun control measures during a brief interview, including “better background checks.” To push for reform, Crist said he would speak with members of Congress and find common ground across the political aisle.
Miami-Dade has been plagued in recent weeks by gun violence, including a mass shooting at a northwest Dade banquet hall over Memorial Day weekend and another earlier this month outside a graduation party in Kendall. With the fifth anniversary of the Pulse shooting in Orlando approaching this Saturday, Crist said that he will be traveling to the site of the mass shooting that left 50 killed and 53 injured in the deadliest attack on LGBT Americans in history.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, who has endorsed Crist in the Democratic primary and appeared with him on Friday to discuss small business recovery, said that Gov. Ron DeSantis should be more focused on the gun violence of the past two weeks.
“He’s absent. We have a real issue in Dade county right now,” Gelber said of the mass shootings this summer. “You would have been there,” he said, addressing Crist.
“But he’s in San Diego,” Crist interjected.
DeSantis, who was in Sarasota Friday morning to sign a property insurance bill, recently traveled to the West Coast on a fundraising tour in preparation for his 2022 re-election campaign — and in what some believe to be a primer for fundraising efforts for a potential 2024 White House bid.
A spokesperson for DeSantis, who tweeted his condolences for the victim of a mass shooting on Memorial Day weekend, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A fixture of the state’s politics for nearly three decades, Crist now represents Florida’s 13th congressional district. Though he served as the state’s attorney general and later governor as a Republican, Crist switched parties in 2012. If he wins his party’s nomination next year and unseats DeSantis, Crist would become the first in Florida’s history to serve as governor as both a Republican and a Democrat — a feat he attempted unsuccessfully in 2014.
In Congress, Crist has moved a long way from his 2010 A- ranking from the National Rifle Association. In 2020, he gained the endorsement of the Newtown Action Alliance, a gun-control advocacy group founded in the weeks after the Sandy Hook school shooting. This year, Crist co-sponsored the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which created new background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties.
But with a Republican-led state Legislature in Florida, any gun control measures the would-be governor may try to broach could be seen as non-starters. Beyond executive orders on guns, which Crist said would “of course be an option,” the key for him to achieving traction on the issue, he said, would be “good negotiation” with members of Congress.
“Talk to people,” Crist said. “Regardless of what party they are, present common-sense ideas and listen to them, show respect. And by doing so you can find common ground.”