Thursday, November 7, 2019

Florida's Assault Weapons Ban Consitutional Ballot Far From a Sure Thing

The out of state organization started to put a constitutional amendment in Florida to Ban Assault Weapons Now, BAWN (no, I won't link to them) is off to a rocky start.  BAWN is part of Americans for Gun Safety Now, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Michael Bloomberg Lobbying Industries, Inc. (yes, I made that up).

From an article in Ammoland Shooting Sports News, it appears that three briefs have been filed in the State Supreme Court against BAWN and their intended ballot initiative.
The NRA, Attorney General Ashley Moody and the National Shooting Sports Foundation argued separately in the briefs that the proposed amendment should be blocked.
The NRA argument is largely that this isn't an assault weapons ban, it's a ban of every semiautomatic long gun ever made due to the loose language of the bill.  I have to suspect that to BAWN that's not a bug, it's a feature. 
The ballot proposal would prohibit possession of “semi-automatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once, either in a fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition-feeding device.”
That would certainly ban my 50 year old Remington Nylon 66, my Ruger 10/22, and virtually every rifle that isn't bolt action that's either for sale today or is already in the possession of owners around the state.  Note the phrase I highlighted in bold; that means if you can modify a gun to hold more than 10 rounds by any method that this proposed amendment makes it illegal.  The amendment bans not only the personal possession of any semiautomatic long gun, it also bans the manufacture and export of those weapons, and “thus prohibits an entire industry” in Florida, an industry that has been growing both by increasing sales and companies moving to the state for the better tax picture.

Attorney General Ashley Moody filed suit against this proposed amendment in July.
“The proposed amendment is, in practical application, a ban on virtually all semi-automatic long guns. This is so because virtually all semi-automatic long guns — either off-the-shelf or by virtue of broadly available accessories — hold, or are ‘capable’ of holding, more than 10 rounds of ammunition,” Moody’s lawyers wrote in a 27-page brief. “The ballot summary does not disclose this effect, which Florida voters are unlikely to understand absent explanation.”
All told, the amendment as described is a hot mess.  The Florida Constitution requires language in these initiatives to be “clear and unambiguous.”  The NRA suit focused, in part, on the term “assault weapons” apparently intending to get that term stricken from the text.
“Coined by anti-gun activists as a derogatory and pejorative term, its prime function is not to inform and describe in a clear, neutral, and objective way, but to deliver rhetorical impact and evoke emotion and condemnation,” the NRA, represented by Andy Bardos and other GrayRobinson attorneys, said in a 34-page brief.
Current owners are not required to turn in guns but the proposed amendment requires them to be registered and prohibits ever transferring them to another person.  If you own one it's yours for life - or until the confiscation starts, which can be made into the same date.  

About the only good news in this article is that the numbers presented show that BAWN has been ineffective at selling this abomination.  To get on the ballot, they need to get 766,200 valid signatures.  As of Monday afternoon, they submitted 115,529, a mere 15% of what they need.  Unless they're hiding something, they need to get the next 85% before their deadline in February. 

There's no mention in the AmmoLand news about the law passed in the closing moments of last year's legislative session affecting BAWN.  The law (HB5) requires paid petition gatherers to register with the Secretary of State and to attest that he or she is a Florida resident for a specified period before obtaining signatures on petition forms, along with imposing some other "truth in petition selling" requirements.


  1. They can ban what they want to ban, but it won't result in more than half a dozen firearms being turned in. Making more than half of the people in Florida into felons won't turn into a political victory.

    1. My first thought is we need to hammer that through. None of these have worked anywhere, so thinking they'll work now is stupid.

      My second thought is that since that process is open to anyone who cares to try to get the 3/4 million signatures, why don't we start one to say Florida will not allow infringement on the 2nd amendment?

    2. Because the "open to anyone" process is (like most things in politics) not actually open to anyone but weighted towards the rich and connected.

      It boils down to getting the money together to get the signatures because there's simply not enough pro-gun people who have enough vacation time and savings to do the canvassing on a volunteer basis.

      Being a productive member of society doesn't lend itself to being an active political activist. Pundit? Critic? Sure, but not really an activist.

    3. Probably the most truth anyone will see today, McThag.

      I hate to say it, but we really need our own Michael Bloomberg-level billionaire.