AP Photo/Michael Conroy
Despite national media attention and the deep pockets of a handful of donors, anti-gun groups like March For Our Lives and Ban Assault Weapons Now have failed in their efforts to get a so-called “assault weapons ban” referendum on the 2020 ballot in Florida. The Sun-Sentinel newspaper in south Florida reports that the activists needed to collect about 766,000 valid signatures to place the referendum on the ballot, but came up hundreds of thousands of signatures short.
Supporters say they are now focusing on getting the question before voters in 2022. The group pushing the petition — Ban Assault Weapons Now — collected 145,000 verified signatures this past year. The deadline to meet the signature requirement for this year’s election was Feb. 1.
“Despite the best efforts of the NRA and politicians in Tallahassee to place obstacles in our path, we will continue our fight to save lives by working hard to ensure voters have the final say over their safety in 2022,” Gail Schwartz, Ban Assault Weapons Now’s chairwoman, said in a prepared statement.
No offense, Gail, but it sounds like voters did have the final say, and they rejected your gun ban by not signing your petitions. After all, it’s not like every proposed referendum failed. There will actually be a couple of non-gun-related ballot measures going before Florida voters this fall.
Two items have been approved to be placed on Florida’s ballot. One would raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15. The other would stipulate only a citizen can vote in the state’s elections.
Two proposals have gathered the required signatures but are pending a reviewing from the Florida Supreme Court.
One would require a constitutional amendment be approved twice by voters instead of just once, making it harder to pass future citizen initiatives. The other would overhaul Florida’s primary election system and open it to all voters regardless of party affiliation.
The biggest obstacle in the path of Ban Assault Weapons Now is the voting public in Florida, which has squarely rejected the attempt to ban the most commonly produced rifle platform in the country. That’s great news for gun owners and Second Amendment supporters, and not-so-great news for the gun control movement, which has used the referendum process in recent years to expand gun control laws in states like California, Washington, and Nevada.
While the ballot initiative has failed this year, a lawsuit filed by the NRA to toss out the initiative based on misleading language continues, according to the Miami Herald.
Although it won’t be on the ballot this fall, lawyers for the amendment still plan on arguing the case before the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday. The justices have to approve amendments before they go on the ballot. [Florida Attorney General Ashley] Moody’s office is expected to argue the amendment is too broad and vague to go before voters.
That court case could make it impossible for gun control activists to use any of the signatures they’ve gathered so far in an attempt to put the gun ban before voters in 2022, though I suspect even if the language is allowed to stand organizers are going to face long odds in their quest. The voters have spoken this year, and they’ve sent a clear and resounding “No thanks” to those seeking to impose a draconian ban on their right to keep and bear arms.