June 15, 2020
By Mark Chestnut
A recent attempt by Florida gun-ban advocates to ban so-called “assault weapons” in the Sunshine State through a proposed ballot initiative has been shot down by the state Supreme Court.
On June 4, the court ruled that the ban advocates were trying to pass as a ballot initiative was invalid, stating that the initiative, which already had about 175,000 signatures, was both misleading and a violation of state law.
Among other concerns, the court stated: “The ballot summary informs voters that registered assault weapons lawfully possessed prior to the Initiative’s effective date are exempt from the scope of the Initiative altogether, which misleads voters to believe that any lawfully possessed assault weapons will continue to remain lawful. However, the Initiative contemplates the eventual criminalization of the possession of assault weapons, even if the assault weapon itself was lawfully possessed and registered prior to the Initiative’s effective date.”
The Anti-gun group Ban Assault Weapons Now (BAWN) had attempted to get the gun ban on the 2020 ballot but didn’t gather enough signatures to do so. Not willing to admit defeat, the group targeted the 2022 ballot and had already gathered about 175,000 signatures before the state Supreme Court’s recent ruling.
The initiative, if passed, would have amended the state constitution to prohibit the possession of a so-called “assault weapon,” and defined that nebulous term quite widely as “any semi-automatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than ten (10) rounds of ammunition at once, either in a fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition-feeding device.”
While the victory for Florida’s lawful gun owners should be celebrated, it’s somewhat disappointing that such a ruling had to target misleading verbiage instead of the fact that such a law would have been a terrible infringement on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Also, never forget that this victory represents just one battle won in the overall war against guns and private firearm ownership. Proponents of the measure, backed by big-money anti-gun billionaires, are likely to come up with new verbiage and start over again in an attempt to get a semi-auto ban on the statewide ballot in the future.
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.