Florida has long been unofficially known as the “Gunshine State” for its generally pro-gun status. While it wasn’t as pro-gun as many places–waiting period, I’m looking at you–it’s still a state with a pro-gun attitude. This is despite the knee-jerk legislation passed through in the emotional wake of the Parkland massacre.
However, anti-gun groups appear to believe the emotional wake is still taking place. Why else would they launch a ballot initiative to ban so-called assault weapons?
The groups, Americans for Gun Safety Now and the unambiguously-named Ban Assault Weapons Now, said in a joint statement released this week that they were formed during the advocacy wave that surged following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 dead in the state in February. Working together, they hope to gather enough signatures to put the initiative in front of voters for a yes or no vote that, if successful, would enact a statewide ban.
“The assault rifle, and its ability to fire approximately one hundred rounds a minute, can be purchased legally with no proof of training, no background check, and no regulations what so ever,” said Gail Schwartz, BAWNs chair, and the aunt of Alex Schachter who was killed at Parkland. “Our goal is to take military-style firearms off the shelves thus saving the lives of innocent people.”
Both organizations, with a small social media footprint and few independent events under their belt, are facing an uphill battle. The groups would need to gather 766,200 signatures from registered Florida voters through an approved petition process to put the amendment on the state’s 2020 ballot. Once there, state law requires that a constitutional amendment has to gather 60 percent of the vote to become law, rather than a simple majority.
The media footprint is only one of the challenges creating an uphill battle for their effort.
Another is the fact that now that things have settled down after Parkland, it’s unlikely that all that many people will want to sign the blasted things.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m quite sure that you can find 766,200 anti-gunners in a state the size of Florida. The problem will be getting the petition in front of them.
Even if that happens, though, I’d be shocked to see 60 percent of the electorate–in a presidential election year, mind you, which means a greater turnout than normal–decide to ban a class of firearms after all the other laws have already been put in place. Recall that earlier this year, Florida raised the age limit for purchasing a long gun to 21, a move we were told was necessary to keep guns like these out of the hands of dangerous people.
I suspect many will figure that, along with other gun control measures passed in the wake of Parkland, are sufficient. At least for now.
In other words, this is a waste of time and nothing more than an effort to build a profile and increase fundraising without having to accomplish anything. The idea is to beat their heads against the wall and use that to claim they’re doing good work.
But what I seriously doubt they’ll do is create an actual assault weapon ban in Florida.