MIAMI — The National Rifle Association accused outgoing Florida House Speaker and likely gubernatorial candidate Richard Corcoran of a “betrayal” on Monday for his role in passing a gun control law for the first time since Republicans won control of the Florida Legislature two decades ago.
“Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran (R) is adding insult to injury by calling the betrayal of law-abiding firearms owners ‘one of the greatest Second Amendment victories we’ve ever had,’” NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer said in a legislative update sent to members and posted on the website of the NRA’s lobbying arm.
“One of the greatest Second Amendment victories we’ve ever had,” she wrote again for emphasis, “NOT !!!!!!”
Hammer made clear that, though the law in question helps end “gun free zones” at many public schools, she and the NRA do not believe that the new three-day waiting period and 21-year age limit for long gun purchases is justified.
The NRA sued over the age limits almost immediately after Gov. Rick Scott signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act into law March 9.
Now the political consequences for Corcoran are coming to bear. And political insiders say Hammer might just be warming up with Corcoran as she considers whether and when to target the 57 Florida House Republicans and 18 Florida Senate Republicans who voted for the bill.
“Richard’s the first casualty. He probably won’t be the last,” said one Republican in the Legislature who was so fearful of Hammer that the member didn’t want any identifying information printed about his or her gender or which chamber he or she served in. “For Richard, this is deadly in a Republican primary.”
Asked about Scott, who’s considering a bid for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson, the member said the governor “is a different animal. He’s a multimillionaire and everyone knows who he is and what his record is on guns — and he won’t have a primary.”
Though Corcoran helped push the legislation through the House, the normally voluble speaker said relatively little about the bill in the waning days of session when it was proposed in response to the Feb. 14 Parkland, Fla., mass shooting that left 17 dead and 17 others injured. His likely opponents in the GOP primary for governor, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Rep. Ron DeSantis, also said little but came out in opposition to the law when it was politically safe and it didn’t appear as if they were crossing Scott, whose endorsement they welcome.
A spokesman for Corcoran, James Blair, downplayed Hammer’s criticism.
“When it comes to gun rights and arming faculty, Speaker Corcoran fundamentally shares the same position as President Trump,” Blair said in a written statement. “This legislation, and the Guardian Program it has created, is game changing, because now highly-trained faculty will be able to defend themselves and their classrooms — eliminating the insanity of gun free zones on our campuses."