Florida Rep. Charlie Crist, the Democratic gubernatorial opponent of Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, told “The View” Friday that he supports the Second Amendment but wants to ban “assault weapons.”
The panel asked Crist, a former Republican, about previously opposing abortion, amnesty for illegal immigrants and gay marriage. The Florida gubernatorial candidate said he changed position and currently supports all of these issues.
Co-host Joy Behar asked Crist whether his views on the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun rights have also changed.
“Listen, I own a gun, I believe in the Second Amendment, but I want to ban assault weapons,” Crist said. “I want to make sure, it’s the right thing to do. As Ana [Navarro] and I both know, Florida has suffered from the gun issue. The Pulse nightclub, the Parkland High School thing…but I think that banning assault weapons, having background checks that actually check backgrounds and having red flag laws nationwide, I sponsored that in the Congress,” he continued.
Several prominent Democrats have called for a ban on so-called assault weapons, including AR-15s and AK-47s. An estimated 20 million modern AR-15s have been in circulation across the U.S. since 2020, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). (RELATED: DeSantis Gives Tampa Rays A Slap On The Wrist For Gun Control Tweets)
The term “assault rifle” has been widely disagreed upon among Americans. U.S. lawmakers tend to categorize Ar-15s, AK-47s and other semi-automatic firearms as “assault weapons.” However, the NSSF has said an AR-15 and other semi-automatic weapons are not assault rifles, defining the term to categorize weapons that are fully automatic.
Despite mass shootings being the primary push for banning these weapons, the most commonly used firearm in a mass shooting is a handgun, Statista reported. Between 1987 and July 2022, 147 different types of handguns were used in 99 different incidents, meaning a handgun caused about 75% of all mass shootings in that time frame.
The Florida Supreme Court struck down an amendment in 2020 that intended to prohibit the possession of assault weapons, with justices arguing it does “not categorically exempt the assault weapon, only the current owner’s possession of that assault weapon.”
An estimated 35% of Floridians own or possess a firearm inside the home, CBS News reported. A total of 518,725 citizens in the state are reportedly licensed firearm owners.