What This FL Supreme Court Decision Means For The Gun Control Debate

With the Florida Supreme Court delivering a judicial smackdown to gun control advocates on Thursday, the Bloomberg-backed push to ban so-called assault weapons in the Sunshine State has taken a major step backwards, and on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co. two great guests and I take a closer look at the decision and where the debate over public safety may turn next.

First up, Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation joins me to discuss some of the specifics of the ruling itself. In a 4-1 decision, justices on the state supreme court ruled that gun control advocates were misleading voters with their description of a proposed ballot initiative to ban semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. Keane says that the ballot initiative language not only failed to accurately inform voters about what would happen to any firearms that were registered with the state, but that the ban itself was far broader than how gun control activists described it.

Virtually all semi-automatic rifles and shotguns would have been covered by the ballot proposal, not just the AR-15 and other commonly sold modern sporting rifles. Under the proposal rejected by the Florida Supreme Court, existing owners of said firearms could register them with the state and keep them, but they wouldn’t be allowed to transfer the firearms, nor pass them on to family members in a will. The language used by gun control activists gave the impression that once the firearm was registered, it would be legal to transfer, and that’s one reason why the state’s highest court told activists to scrap their proposal and try again.

Also joining me on today’s program is Ryan Petty, the father of Alaina Petty, who was murdered in the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Petty says he’s ecstatic about the decision by the Florida justices, and hopes that the decision means that the focus in the state can now return to practical and effective policies to reduce violent crime, instead of simply trying to ban our way to safety.

Petty has been heavily involved in work to put those effective policies in place since shortly after the shootings in Parkland two years ago, and one of the things that he’d like to see around the country is a greater role for school resource officers. We spoke about the decisions by officials in Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis, Minnesota to remove police officers from schools, and Petty was emphatic that if he lived in either city, he’d be pulling his kids out of school right now.

Petty is well aware of the fact that a school resource officer’s presence doesn’t automatically prevent active assailant attacks on school grounds, and he knows that, as in Parkland, a school resource officer may choose to cower outside the school rather than rush inside to take on the attacker. Still, he says that having a school resource officer on campus isn’t only a valuable resource in case of someone trying to kill students, but that SROs are instrumental in working with school districts to identify threats to students and staff before an attack takes place.

I encourage you to check out both interviews in the video window above, and my thanks to both Larry Keane and Ryan Petty for joining me on the show today.