Florida Attorney General Calls Proposed Assault Weapon Ban ‘Far-Reaching’ and ‘Misleading’

Florida AG Ashley Moody believes the constitutional amendment proposal would mislead voters. (Photo: Florida Attorney General)

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody stood her ground on Monday when asked whether in the wake of the weekend’s mass murders she’d reconsidered her opposition to a constitutional amendment banning “assault weapons” that could appear before voters on the 2020 ballot.

Calling the proposal “far-reaching” and “misleading,” she explained that the ban’s language would go far beyond the guns commonly used in mass murders to include firearms like those her grandfather gave her father and his brother 60 years ago.

“The way that they have phrased this language, it would ban virtually every firearm, including those that in no shape of the imagination would one think would be described as an assault weapon,” she said during a press conference about a different topic.

“My job as the attorney general is to pay attention to the words that are used in this ballot language to make sure that it does not hide the ball or mislead voters. This particular amendment would mislead voters into thinking they were banning a specific type of firearms when in reality they were banning virtually every long gun, including those that have been passed down from generation to generation.”

The constitutional amendment proposal is being promoted by an organization called Ban Assault Weapons Now! (BAWN) founded by Gail Schwartz, whose nephew was killed in the Parkland massacre. They’re hoping to get the amendment on the 2020 ballot by garnering the necessary 766,200 signatures before February. The group reported in June that over 100,000 Floridians had signed the petition.

According to the group’s official petition, the amendment would ban “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.”

SEE ALSO: Group Pushing for Florida ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban Hits 100,000 Signatures, Headed for State Supreme Court

As Moody and others have noted, the amendment would ban firearms like the .22-caliber Ruger 10/22, which comes with a 10-round magazine but can also be used with aftermarket 25-round magazines.

The petition exempts “handguns,” though it does not define the distinctions between between rifles and handguns.

It has also been unclear how the registration and grandfather process would function. The petition says that the amendment would “exempt and require registration of assault weapons lawfully possessed prior to this provision’s effective date,” but it does not explain whether those lawfully possessed weapons would be transferrable.

According to Moody, the answer is “no.” Long guns could not be transferred upon a registered owner’s death, precluding parents and grandparents from handing down their firearms to future generations.

SEE ALSO: ‘Assault Weapon’ Ban in Florida… Anti-Gun Groups Join Forces to Put it on the Ballot

BAWN spokesman Ben Pollara insists that the amendment language is sufficiently clear and targets only those firearms used in mass murders like those that have taken place in Parkland and Orlando.

“If someone wants to give their ‘9 or 10’ year old grandkid a semiautomatic rifle capable of taking a high-capacity magazine they will be out of luck,” Pollara said in a statement, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “But unless grandpa needs to unload ten bullets into a deer when he’s out hunting, his 60 year old rifle is probably totally legal under this amendment.”

“Our intent is not to take anyone’s guns away while also ensuring civilian possession of these military-style weapons doesn’t proliferate any further in this state.”

BAWN’s social media tells a different story. The group’s Facebook page clarifies that their agenda extends far beyond “assault weapons” and includes confiscation along with a ban and gun registration.

“If the fundamental problem is that America has far too many guns, then policies need to cut the number of guns in circulation right now to seriously reduce the number of gun deaths,” the group states. “Background checks and other restrictions on who can buy a gun can’t achieve that in the short term. What America likely needs, then, is something more like Australia’s mandatory buyback program — essentially, a gun confiscation scheme — paired with a serious ban on specific firearms (including, potentially, all semiautomatic weapons).”

As for the petition, the state Supreme Court will ultimately decide if it can appear on the ballot next year.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over six years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Tyler. Got a hot tip? Send him an email at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • gandolf the White November 27, 2020, 6:54 am

    There are 27,000 State and Federal firearms laws on the books already. Adding more isn’t going to help. The first school massacre was in 1764 at the Enoch Brown School. Two Lenni Lenape Indians murdered 9 students and the teacher with knives.

  • Dave Shaw October 24, 2020, 5:05 am

    Firstly, the argument that 2A does not have restrictions on gun owners is not true. It has been upheld by the highest court in the land that certain types of weapons (those presumably made for military use mainly) can be prohibited for civilian use. Gun registration has also been upheld. In many locales, concealed carry is restricted unless approved by some government entity such as the local Sheriff. (I thankfully live in a “shall issue” state.

    So, given the fact that 2A is not subject to some restriction, the key issue is how to write laws that narrow that restriction to the extent possible, while providing a reasonable benefit to society. That’s a tough narrow line to follow. The answer to me is to have gun owners involved in the drafting of gun legislation rather than trying to beat back overly broad or vague laws that have no “cost/benefit”.

    I don’t think the “ranting and raving” strategy works, so let’s try something that does work.

    • Stuart Buncher November 27, 2020, 6:44 am

      There are presently 27,000 State and Federal Laws out there. If none of them are working making more laws isn’t going to help.

  • Slim December 20, 2019, 4:26 am

    Finally a government paid employee that’s actually trying to do the right thing! Sad I’d bet it’s ot happening since she’s obviously a gun owner as well as her family and if things changed it’s affect HER life which sad to say is the only reason I bet she’s doing a single thing. Even if it is a selfish reason, I’ll take it! It’s so stupid these government idiots think that banning guns or any other restricting BS is ever going to slow down criminals who by the way don’t care about laws so realistically only legal gun wonders would be affected by the 80% debate. Fact is they will go one day, just when! The zero serial number is a fight they’ll win in the end no doubt. But of course I’ll be keeping mine no matter what since there not on one government sheet. Fact is I built mine so the government wouldn’t take them! Not so I can commit crimes with them! Loom how they screws us on the bump stocks, only one state offered a think it’s a $100 turn in offer which doesn’t cover even the cheapest made bump stocks let alone the good ones like the MOD stock from Slide Fire that is super comfortable, has a nice rubber end plate, and most of all had the standard 6-7 spot adjustment lever and the best part a locking device that solidly locks the stock to the buffer tube for literally zero butt stock wobble which of course leads to better accuracy. Those were around $300 before the possible ban became public in which case I saw people paying over $800 per OGR cheapest stick they made, but those people are to Turk them in for a $100 IF they line in the ONE state offering to pay something for the legal stock purchased or worse get absolutely nothing from all other states! No way! That’s why there’s only been in the single digits or maybe by now in the teens or Mac twenties of all the stocks turned in! And they say there’s millions out there still. So imagine how many people have those few AR’s in their closet they nobody sees;) I hope a crap load!

  • kuunass August 13, 2019, 1:40 pm

    Trump has completely lost it. First the Bumpstock. Next up is the wrist or arm brace. We better get off our ASSES and find a Real American to be our next president . And we need to do it quick before Trump completely gets brainwashed. WE are the Gun lobby and we need to let our Reps and Senators know that THEY work for us not the other way around. Ever heard of a recall when they don’t do what we want them to do. Remember Colorado, 2 senators got recalled when they went in all pro-gun and started with there anti gun amendments. It was out the door goodbye Jackinapes ( that just means people who can’t be trusted, deceitful, say 1 thing mean another ). But please don’t sit this race out. WE NEED TO GET THE House an Senate to keep our firearm freedom. Don’t worry so much about there stance on things, we can deal with them once they get in. Recall them and put whoever came in 2nd and see if they can manage to tow the line. Oh and I can say Ashley Has done an excellent job keeping an eye out for the Gun owners of Florida.. Adam Putnam, hell or Ashley for President

  • Dwyane Frisco Gelato August 12, 2019, 10:33 am

    While the attorney general is headed in the right direction with her comments she is still fundamentally misguided. The fact that the language is intentionally vague as to ban all semiautomatic long guns is indeed a problem, but what she should have said is that so called assault will never be banned and this ballot initiative is unconstitutional on its face. We need more Republicans coming out and stating the obvious. Any further gun control of any kind is unconstitutional. Any restrictions of any kind are unconstitutional. Our guns are for the protection of our nation from tyranny not for hunting a deer.

  • Jethead12 August 10, 2019, 7:32 pm

    GOD BLESS ASHLEY MOODY!!! We need more like her in the great state of Florida.

  • Bob August 10, 2019, 2:15 pm

    Constitutional Amendment on the 2020 ballot?? Since when do we modify the US Constitution by referendum?

    • JR August 13, 2019, 4:14 pm

      Florida’s Constitution.

  • Tom Blabey August 10, 2019, 8:37 am

    First, my deepest sympathies to all the victims and their families and friends. However, let’s not let emotions and/or hidden agendas reign over reasoned thought (“common sense”). First, the choice of weapon should not be the focus of attention. Murder and attempted murder, regardless of the weapon used, are unlawful within every jurisdiction in the United States. Secondly, would the anti-gunners prefer that the crazies, so lacking in moral character and good judgment, steal a propane or ,gasoline tanker and blow it up, or how about a fertilizer bomb like that used in the Oklahoma City bombing, or how about using a vehicle to run down pedestrians (New York City and Melbourne, AU). The focus should be on the perpetrators, and not their choice of weapons, which can so easily be changed. Thirdly, there is the media coverage that elevates the perpetrators to “rock star” status- an early episode of NCIS and also Criminal Minds,. effectively dealt with this issue. At least 99.99% of gun owners, including law enforcement and military owners of personal weapons, are responsible citizens and do not deserve the tyranny of a highly-charged emotional response which denies them of their rights.

  • Big Kahuna August 9, 2019, 8:07 pm

    They can pass all the gun grabbing laws they want, but I’m not turning in s*** until criminals do the same!

  • Ben Giralico August 9, 2019, 4:59 pm

    Don’t the jerks know that only law abiding citizens obey laws , by definition criminals don’t.

    • Godfrey Daniel August 10, 2019, 11:52 am

      They know but don’t care. Their agenda comes first.

    • Jay August 10, 2019, 11:34 pm

      They know and furthermore, they DO care. That’s their plan. The more that criminals have and use guns, the more they’ll have to restrict freedom, register and ban firearms. (in that order- makes confiscation sooo much easier)

  • Alan Mueller August 9, 2019, 4:04 pm

    Why do these people care what other people own for enjoyment and self defense. What’s next cars?

  • Roger Bryant August 9, 2019, 3:40 pm

    I’m a Floridian and Ashley has my support and vote!

    • John S Stagg August 10, 2019, 1:00 am

      Gun control nuts must be out of their communist minds. 65 million Americans own guns. How is any stupid liberal going to enforce such a worthless law. Americans will never give up their guns, never!

      • Stuart Buncher November 27, 2020, 6:48 am

        There are 100 million Americans, 1/3 the population with 450 million registered firearms who have killed less people than Ted Kennedy’s car. 19 million registered are so called assault weapons.

    • jethead12 August 10, 2019, 7:27 pm

      I’m a Floridian and I’m not with her. Who is going to protect my family when a criminal tries to do us harm. The police when they arrive 15 minutes later and my wife and children are dead? I’m sure you will be there for your thoughts and prayers….right Roger. Thanks but no thanks….you can be a patsy if you like, but do not dictate that to others who choose differently.

  • Rand August 9, 2019, 1:53 pm

    In Washington state the unconstitutional I-1639 was passed into law last year. It requires registration of all assault rifles defined as all semiautomatics. It was financed by Bloomberg. Our communist AG encouraged and helped write the new law and says it stands until the Supreme court says otherwise.

    • Sam Bishop August 10, 2019, 10:33 am

      The truth is, nobody is going to turn in their weapons. Our second amendment says our right to bear arms shall not be infringed. Washington wants us to register our “assault weapons “ with our local law enforcement agencies. Luckily several sheriffs departments have stayed true to their oath to protect and serve and have stated they will not enforce I 1639. One county near Republic, WA has declared itself to be a sanctuary for the second amendment. There are at least some conservatives left to fight the idiocy of the left. Stay united brothers.

  • Tommy Barros August 9, 2019, 12:29 pm

    Communist Progressive Liberalism is a DISEASE far worse the Bubonic Plague or the Ebola Virus!
    IT has killed MILLIONS planet wide, yet it has not been eradicated like it should be with the same determination as getting rid of ANY Social Disease!


  • Michael J August 9, 2019, 12:06 pm

    The attorney general of California Becerra does just the opposite. He was responsible for confusing the ballot to make voters think they were repealing a gasoline tax but instead they were voting to keep it.
    California ballot props were always misleading and some included wording like “Vote yes on No” or “No on Yes”.

  • glock19fan August 9, 2019, 11:52 am

    Good for Ashley Moody! We need more like her in government! Laws like ERPO’s or “Universal Background checks are aimed at the wrong people and the so-called “Assault Weapon” spreads a net too widely; the only accurate definition of “assault weapon” that is accurate is”any implement that is being used to attack another person.” True “assault rifles” require a Federal machine gun permit to own and about $,20,000 or so to buy.

    Please stick to your guns, AG Moody! We need you!

  • Frank August 9, 2019, 10:23 am

    Totally delusional! If you went to the doctors office with pneumonia, and he handed you a box of Kleenex, you’d think hes an idiot. These reactions are the Kleenex! They are treating the symptoms, not the core problems. Children are growing up with a reduced value of human life! They are taught we came from apes and simply rot after death. ((( The only thing that will stop this mass murder is a nationwide revival in belief of God, and accountability. Take away the guns, and bombs & arson will follow x10!

  • Mike R Bellew August 9, 2019, 9:04 am

    Come and take em!!!!! you better bring lots of back up if you decide to come to my house to confiscate. I will fight to the death after all I am a American and I have the 2A as my birth right. So I just dare anyone to try! Out of my cold dead hands! Bring it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Mike in ATL August 9, 2019, 12:56 pm

      They won’t have to. They’ll just freeze your bank accounts and starve you in to submission until you voluntarily drop everything off so you can feed yourself and your family. Then what have you accomplished?

      We need intelligent solutions, not juvenile emotional responses. Like it or not, we’re going to have to win over enough people to our side to prevail, and to do that, we need to persuade them it is in THEIR interests — not yours or mine — that we retain access to such rifles and ammunition.

      • Alan August 11, 2019, 1:38 am

        Okay, let’s work with that. First, we will continue to try and reason with rabid tyrants who want to suspend the constitution and make us their subjects. After all, the true reason for absolute gun control is the same everywhere for all time. Hitler did it to gain power over the jews. See how that ended? Stalin did it. Mao did it. And the progressive left fully intends to do the same should they get their way. They will move with the rest of their agenda of unbridled socialism and destruction of individual liberty. Go look up Stalwell’s comments, if you don’t believe me.

        That is the carrot for you.

        Regarding the stick, how about this? If they pass a law making me an outlaw, when I was otherwise a find citizen, and I will then consider going after the source. They can take all my money if I am stupid enough to put it all in bank accounts and 401Ks. But until they put me down, I still have fight left in me and a keen awareness of who is the source of my misery.

        That is the stick.

        Concluding, Trump sold us out on plastic bump stops and is talking like he plans to do it again and even way worse with all kinds of anti-2nd laws. If he does so, I plan to do everything in my power to see that he loses next year. For about 20 million of Trump’s voters from 2016, 2nd amendment rights are the highest issue. When he betrays us, he will kill his election chances.

      • Jon Peckat December 13, 2019, 6:44 pm

        No. Then I will feed his family. What do you think the British tried to do to the colonials. It’s text book. We fight for each other’s birth right. The government is there to protect our god given rights not take them away. The righting is on the wall. If the Federal government doesn’t stop the states from violating the constitution or itself then We the people will have to form “The well regulated (which means to be ready originally) militia to push back tyranny.

  • Alan August 9, 2019, 7:38 am

    Far reaching and misleading doesn’t begin to cover it. If you read the bill it bans all semi-auto rifles AND pistols CAPABLE of accepting a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds. So it would ban every pistol except for the broomhandle Mauser with the internal mag and any other pistol that does not have a heel type magazine release. You can bet the lefties knew exactly what they were doing when the selected this wording.

    • Drew August 9, 2019, 2:37 pm

      Like the man said. “It ‘probably’ won’t ban them”. And I probably won’t die if I jump off the Empire State building and hit the pavement. And then again I’ll ‘probably’ never give him any of my guns while I’m breathing.

  • Arch August 9, 2019, 7:16 am

    Our Recognized, Enumerated and Protected Constitutional Rights are NOT subject to a popular vote on some ballot, Dammit!!!!!!

    • Eric August 9, 2019, 3:38 pm

      This is the truth, whether anyone else thinks it’s convenient or not.

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