Richard Corcoran wants the NRA to take him back

He wrote a letter calling on the state to oppose an assault-style weapons ban potentially bound for the state constitution. Will the NRA have a change of heart?

This is outgoing House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O' Lakes Republican who loves guns. - Florida House of Representatives
Florida House of Representatives
This is outgoing House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O' Lakes Republican who loves guns.

Love can be a funny thing sometimes.

In recent weeks, the NRA jilted Florida's Republican leadership over a bill placing a few limits on gun ownership — even if the same law put guns in the hands of "guardians" at schools throughout the state.

State House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Land O' Lakes), a likely candidate for governor, apparently hopes to win back their love.

In a letter to the state's Constitution Revision Commission, a 37-member panel that meets every 20 years to consider possible changes to the state constitution, Corcoran expressed opposition to a proposal that could result in a ban on assault-style weapons like the one used in the Parkland school shooting, as well as other limitations on guns.

“I am writing to express my grave concern with amendments that are inappropriate for inclusion in the state constitution,” Corcoran wrote. “The Constitution protects the right to keep and bear arms. All firearm policies flow from that fundamental right and should remain policy matters for the Legislature.”

The CRC may vote to place the proposed amendment on the statewide ballot in November. If that happens, 60 percent of voters would have to approve it. And polling suggests they would.

On Monday, NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer released a statement slamming Richard Corcoran for shepherding S.B. 7026, a compromise bill addressing guns and school safety, through the legislature last week.

The NRA was, naturally, not a fan of provisions raising the minimum gun-buying age from 18 to 21, creating a three-day waiting period for potential gun buyers and banning "bump stocks."

So, they sued. Then came Hammer's statement, which accused Corcoran of "adding insult to injury" by calling the law "one of the greatest Second Amendment victories we've ever had."

Hammer added that the bill violates "the rights of young adults aged 18-20 by denying them their constitutional right to purchase a firearm," makes Floridians wait for their guns and bans tools capable of making certain guns even more deadly.

Will Corcoran's overture on the CRC proposal be enough to woo the NRA in time for primary season? He'll need all the help he can get in a GOP field packed with self-proclaimed "NRA sellouts" like Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Democrats, who are well aware of how most Floridians actually feel about assault weapons after Pulse and Parkland, certainly think that's the calculation here. After all, one can always equivocate after the primary.

In a statement following the release of Corcoran's letter, State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Miami) said Corcoran is "running scared" from Hammer and the NRA.

"Clearly intimidated by the NRA's mean letter about him, Speaker Corcoran just opened the door for future legislatures to fully reverse even the weakest gun safety provisions signed into law after Parkland," Smith's statement continues. "His 'grave concern' over making any gun control permanent, exposes what we already knew. Florida Republicans are not committed to addressing gun violence over the long term and are eager to continue implementing the NRA’s extreme agenda once the attention has shifted elsewhere."

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