It’s starting to become a tradition among anti-gun state legislators. In the wake of a horrible mass murder, they propose legislation that bans “assault weapons” rather than address the people who actually pull the trigger.
Right on cue, following the Orlando nightclub attack last year, Florida Democrats Carlos Guillermo-Smith and Linda Stewart have proposed legislation modeled after Connecticut’s “assault weapons” ban and the old, Clinton-era federal ban on semi-automatic sporting rifles.
The legislation displays the usual anti-gun ignorance of existing firearm laws, defining “assault weapon” as “any selective-fire firearm capable of fully automatic, semi-automatic, or burst fire at the option of the user,” according to a draft copy provided to the Orlando Sentinel. Fully automatic firearms are already heavily regulated, of course, and few civilians own them.
To cover for their lack of knowledge, the bill’s authors include scores of specific gun models, including the AK-47, the AR-15, and the Sig Sauer MCX.
The legislation also bans the sale of “large capacity magazines,” arbitrarily defined as those capable of loading more than seven rounds (Remember how well that seven-round ban worked out for the NY SAFE Act?).
While Smith and Stewart’s constituents might support the proposal, many are no doubt wondering why their legislators are wasting time on legislation that has no hope of passing the Republican-controlled Legislature. Both Smith and Stewart admitted to the Orlando Sentinel that the bill is a long shot, but they believe it is part of their “obligation as leaders.”
GOP lawmakers in Florida are moving in the opposite direction by proposing laws that expand gun rights rather than shrink them.
Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, has filed a bill aimed at reducing the number of gun-free zones by allowing guns on college campuses,
Republican Sen. Greg Steube also proposed legislation that would allow people with concealed-carry permits to bring guns onto college campuses but expands these rights to include government meetings and airport terminals (although not through security checkpoints).
Steube’s bill has become especially relevant in light of the recent shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport that left five people dead and six wounded. Unlike Smith and Stewart’s bill, which would disarm responsible gun owners, Steube’s bill would allow law-abiding citizens to carry their weapons into airport terminals to defend themselves against future attacks.
Sen. Stewart isn’t convinced. She doesn’t believe gun owners are capable of defending themselves or others.
“We’re trying to cut back on the violence,” she told the Orlando Sentinel. “To say, ‘in order to cut back, we’re going to have more’ — that doesn’t make sense.”
If passed, Smith and Stewart’s “assault weapons” ban takes effect July 1, 2018, but would not be applied to semi-automatic rifles already owned by Florida residents.