A gun control group pushing to ban “assault weapons” in Florida has garnered more than 100,000 signatures for its cause and triggered a review by the Florida Supreme Court. If the group gets 766,200 by February, the ban will become one of the potential constitutional amendments on the 2020 ballot.
“Hundreds of thousands of Floridians across the state are getting behind this effort to place a ban on the ballot, because they know that this isn’t a partisan issue — this is an issue of public safety,” BAWN Chairwoman Gail Schwartz, the aunt of slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Alex Schachter, said in a statement.
The amendment on the petition would ban possession of “assault weapons,” defined “as semiautomatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once, either in fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition-feeding device.”
The measure excludes handguns, and it exempts all firearms owned before the date the ban becomes effective. But it also requires any of those grandfathered rifles and shotguns to be registered with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement within one year of the ban’s effective date. Gun owners must provide a sworn statement that they owned the firearm before the effective date and provide the firearm’s make, model, and serial number. Law enforcement is required to keep a permanent record of the firearms registered.
In order for the measure to become part of the Florida constitution, it must garner 60 percent of the vote.
Leaders of Ban Assault Weapons Now! include former Parkland student David Hogg, Florida Congressman Ted Deutch, and several survivors and parents of survivors of mass murders. Partner organizations include the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and March for Our Lives.
BAWN produced a video that appears on the home page of its website, right above a request for donations. The unlisted video has been viewed a grand total of 746 times on YouTube and repeats the same talking points used by most gun ban advocates.
“These are weapons of war, military style weapons that, frankly, were not meant to be in the hands of civilians,” says Dr. Joseph Sakran, a trauma surgeon who appears in a BAWN video. “These are wounds we should never be seeing.”
“Banning assault weapons is not going to stop every mass shooting, but if we prevent even one shooting, it is worth it,” says another woman who appears in the video.
Gun control advocates in Washington State used the same ballot tactic last year to impose a slate of gun control measures without the legislature’s approval. Garnering 60 percent of the vote, I-1639 banned the sale of semiautomatic rifles to adults under the age of 21, created a registry of gun owners, established a 10-day waiting period for certain purchases, held gun owners liable for failing to secure firearms, and allowed the state to charge a $25 fee on the sale of “assault rifles.”