Governor Charlie Crist of Florida is the CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month for July.
In nominating the Sunshine State’s chief executive for the Award, John M. Snyder, CCRKBA Public Affairs Director, noted that, “in late May, Gov. Crist vetoed a bill that if signed into law would have had a serious negative impact on the right to keep and bear arms.
“The state legislature had intended with its bill to take six million dollars from the Division of Licensing Concealed Weapons and Firearm Trust Fund that is intended, by law, to be used solely for administering the state’s concealed weapons and concealed weapons law.
As Marion P. Hammer, Executive Director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida, NRA Past President, and a CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month pointed out, ‘that would have been a de facto tax on gun owners.’”
Snyder added that “Gov. Crist vetoed the $6 million raid on the Concealed Weapons and Firearms Licensing Trust Fund included in the budget by the legislature. In this time of economic difficulty and various political attacks on the right of individual law-abiding American citizens to keep and bear arms, it is good to see a public official, in this case a governor, stand up successfully to attempts to undermine gun rights. Observers feel the money in the Fund is needed to repair and improve computers and add more temporary workers to process an unprecedented backlog of permit applications. Gov. Crist surely deserves the recognition implicit in this Award.”
It was just a year ago that Gov. Crist signed into law a bill to protect the right of qualified Floridians to keep a firearm in their vehicle for personal protection. He did this despite attempts by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Retail Federation to kill the proposal. The bill provided that businesses can not prohibit employees or customers from keeping a legally owned gun locked inside their cars, as long as the owner has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
“The Second Amendment is very important,” said Gov. Crist. “I understand there are competing interests, but people being protected is most important to me.”
The proposal that Gov. Crist signed into law last year provides that Florida citizens have a constitutional right to possess and securely keep legal private property within their motor vehicles, out of sight, particularly such property as is necessary for or incidential to their exercise of other constitutional rights.
It stipulates that these rights are not abrogated by virtue of a citizen becoming a customer, employee, or invitee of a business entity.
It states that a citizen’s lawful possession, transportation and secure keeping of certain private property within his or her motor vehicle is essential to the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of association, the free exercise of religion, and the right to keep and bear arms.
It provides that no public or private entity may prohibit any customer, employee of invitee from possessing any personal private property that is a legal product when such product is lawfully possessed and locked inside or locked to a private motor vehicle, out of sight, in a parking lot and when the customer, employee of invitee is lawfully in such area.
Although some gun owners this spring were disappointed with Gov. Crist for not appointing Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alan Lawson to the Florida Supreme Court, Gov. Crist has supported repeal of federal restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms by law-abiding citizens. He does of course favor allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms.
Charles Joseph “Charlie” Crist, Jr. was born on July 24, 1956, 53 years ago this month.
Crist was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania and moved to St. Petersburg, Florida as a child, where he attended Riviera Middle School and graduated from St. Petersburg High School in 1974.
Crist attended Wake Forest University for two years, where he played quarterback for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. He earned his undergraduate degree from Florida State University and received his law degree from Cumberland School of Law in Alabama.
Crist was elected to the Florida State Senate in 1992. He earned the moniker “Chain Gang Charlie” in some editorials for sponsoring a bill to reestablish chain gangs.
In 2000, Crist was elected Education Commissioner of Florida.
In 2002, Crist was elected Attorney General of Florida. He prosecuted civil rights and fraud cases.
Crist was elected governor in 2006, succeeding outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush in January, 2007.