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Will Florida, The ‘Gunshine State’ Outlaw The AR-15?

Assault Rifles
Democrats and their radical Far Left progressive allies in Florida have refined the art of government by constitutional amendment to a science. After outlawing dog racing and restoring felon voting rights, they have now set their sights on outlawing America’s most popular sporting rifle – the AR-15, along with practically every other semi-automatic shotgun and rifle.

According to reporting by Dara Kam the proposed constitutional amendment would prohibit “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, which would not prohibit handguns, includes an exemption for military and law-enforcement personnel “in their official duties.”

The proposal would allow people who already own assault weapons at the time the constitutional amendment goes into effect to keep them, if they register the guns with state law enforcement.

Except no one can quite figure out exactly which guns would be outlawed.

One of the first hurdles the ballot initiative must clear is an economic analysis – the economists’ task is to predict the financial impact that the proposed amendment, backed by the political committee Ban Assault Weapons NOW, would have on state and local economies.

But before they can get to the number crunching, the economists, meeting as the Financial Impact Estimating Conference, have to nail down the specific weapons the proposal seeks to ban.

“That is everything to us. That is how many sales are potentially being affected and what manufacturing activities are potentially being affected. It is a critical piece. It is not a cut-and-dry issue,” Amy Baker, head of the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, said after a two-hour meeting Tuesday as reported by Ms. Kam.

Attorney General Ashley Moody asked the Florida Supreme Court --- which reviews the wording of ballot initiatives to make sure they meet certain legal standards --- to keep the proposal off the 2020 ballot, arguing that it is “clearly and conclusively defective.”

Moody wrote that the proposed amendment would “ban the possession of virtually every semi-automatic long-gun,” reported Ms. Kam.

According to our friends at the NRA-ILA, AG Moody's spokesperson Lauren Schenone told the media, "Regardless of your position on gun restrictions, this proposed ballot language is a trick."

She added, "The drafters of this proposal have confused voters by creating a misleading definition of 'assault weapons' which would include a majority of the most popular hunting rifles and shotguns."

The AG’s petition opposes placement of the amendment on the ballot. The petition identifies the following four deficiencies in the ballot title and summary as being misleading to voters: 

(1) the definition of “assault weapon” captures virtually all semi-automatic long-guns, but this practical impact is not revealed to the voters in the ballot summary;

(2) the amendment forces nearly all lawful owners to register with FDLE, and establishes a gun registration scheme that will make the personal identifying information of gun owners available to all other state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies;

(3) the ballot summary fails to disclose the 30-day window after passage during which individuals can purchase weapons and take advantage of the grandfathering provision; and

(4) the amendment grants the legislature plenary authority to increase, but never decrease, the criminal penalty set forth in the amendment, which is a third-degree felony.

It was not immediately clear Monday when the Supreme Court might hear arguments on the wording of the proposal.

Also, it includes what Moody describes as a “grandfathering provision” for people who had the weapons before the amendment would take effect. Those people, in part, would be able to retain possession if they register with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Registration records would be available to local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies “for valid law enforcement purposes but shall otherwise be confidential,” the text of the proposed amendment says.

“Moreover, the ballot title and summary do not inform Florida's electorate that virtually every lawful owner of a semi-automatic long-gun will be forced to register with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, or that this registry would be available to all local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies,” Moody wrote. “Nor do the ballot title and summary state the time within which preexisting long-gun owners must register their firearms that meet the proposed amendment's definition of ‘assault weapon’ and avail themselves of the amendment's grandfathering provision.”

In the document filed last Friday with the Florida Supreme Court, Moody contended that the ballot title and summary do not adequately explain issues related to grandfathering.

We urge CHQ readers and friends in Florida to take nothing for granted and to gear-up for a long and expensive fight to defend the Second Amendment in Florida. If there’s one lesson that we should take away from recent ballot initiatives it is that constitutional arguments and common sense will quickly go by the wayside in the face of millions of dollars in campaign money from Far Left billionaires and shadowy liberal special interest groups.

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