Florida’s shiny new 105-page “public safety” act is a veritable pu-pu platter of 2018’s most popular school-shooting-prevention policies. It covers everything from armed teachers and mental health to age restrictions and “school crime watch programs.”
But one of the bill’s smallest sections could turn out to be the most contentious. In response to last year’s mass murder in Las Vegas, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act bans bump-fire stocks along with any device “which is used to increase the rate of fire to a faster rate than is possible for a person to fire such semiautomatic firearm unassisted by a kit, a tool, an accessory, or a device.”
Here’s the entire section:
790.222 Bump-fire stocks prohibited.—A person may not import into this state or transfer, distribute, sell, keep for sale, offer for sale, possess, or give to another person a bump fire stock. A person who violates this section commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 741 775.083, or s. 775.084. As used in this section, the term “bump fire stock” means a conversion kit, a tool, an accessory, or a device used to alter the rate of fire of a firearm to mimic automatic weapon fire or which is used to increase the rate of fire to a faster rate than is possible for a person to fire such semiautomatic firearm unassisted by a kit, a tool, an accessory, or a device.
Devices that “mimic automatic weapon fire” likely include bump-fire stocks, trigger cranks, and even, according to attorney and GunsAmerica Managing Editor True Pearce, binary triggers that fire one round on the pull and one on the release. Pearce added that the law is “overly broad, vague and unconstitutional.”
How on God’s green earth can Florida gun owners be expected to determine whether their device increases the rate of fire to that which “a person” would be unable to achieve unassisted by that device? In general, aftermarket triggers with a lighter pull and faster reset allow shooters to increase their rate of fire. Does that mean that Florida just banned these types of triggers?
Mums the word right now from the Florida legislators who just rammed the bill through Tallahassee. The only office to return our request for comment was Speaker Richard Corcoran’s. When we asked his Communications Director, Fred Piccolo, if the Speaker could clarify this issue, he said that our question “is delving into a legal opinion and that’s not something we can provide.”
“I’m not saying he doesn’t know,” Piccolo clarified after we asked why the Speaker voted for the bill. “We’ve all read the statute. Interpreting what is and isn’t covered will be the provenance of the judiciary. But he has his opinions on what is and isn’t covered. But to ask if certain triggers are now illegal is not in his Constitutional Lane [sic].”
We offered to print the Speaker’s opinions but never received a reply.
For now, it looks like Sunshine State residents will have to wait and wonder what kind of devices Florida legislators aimed to ban, even though Florida legislators don’t seem to know themselves. In the mad rush to respond to high school walkouts and anti-gun hysteria, a historically pro-gun state may have just banned trigger systems used in thousands of legally owned rifles.
Even if they didn’t, and the courts rule in favor of gun rights, their potential negligence will be tough to excuse.