Understanding Florida's Potential Assault Weapon Ban

Florida has long had a reputation as a pro-gun state. It’s even been called “The Gunshine State,” a play on its more official nickname. While it’s not necessarily as pro-gun as many like to believe, it’s long been an important stronghold for gun rights.

After Parkland, however, it reacted quickly–as kneejerks tend to be–and added on some gun control. Lawmakers quickly backed off of making any new proposals, but anti-gunners in the state smelled blood in the water and are pushing hard for more.

Now, the battle’s intensifying and area media are trying to clarify the issue to some degree.

As the Florida Supreme Court considers a motion by Attorney General Ashley Moody to invalidate a proposed ballot amendment that would ban assault-style weapons, gun control advocates joined with Democratic leaders Wednesday to urge Moody to reconsider.

1) What would the amendment do?

The amendment, proposed by Ban Assault Weapons Now, seeks to ban any weapon capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once.

Supporters say the definition covers the assault-style guns most often used in the nation’s spate of mass shootings, including last year’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

3) What is Moody’s case against the amendment?

The attorney general, a Republican who has received campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups, believes the amendment’s language is misleading.

She warns the measure is intended to “trick” voters into believing that it applies to a small subset of guns and not the “common” guns owned by many Floridians.

Now, Ban Assault Weapons Now’s actual petition uses slightly different language than the media does. It defines assault weapon 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.”

In other words, it won’t actually ban any weapon that’s capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

That said, there are all kinds of problems with this petition and Moody is right to oppose it. For one thing, it means any semi-auto rifle or shotgun capable of holding ten rounds in any manner at all. That includes internal magazines, so even a semi-auto shotgun with a tube-extension could be considered an assault rifle.

So yeah, it may well extend beyond what many people believe it would include.

More importantly, though, the issue with shootings has to do with people, not guns. Parkland happened not because guns were available but because pretty much every adult in the killer’s life ignored every warning sign he was giving and did nothing, that includes the FBI. No one did a damn thing and the killer did what he was intending to do.

Meanwhile, we have other cases where people didn’t do that and guess what? They get stopped.

Guns aren’t the problem.

Yet if mass shootings were the issue, the law wouldn’t be so broad. They’d focus on a handful of measures that might target just the weapons supposedly preferred by mass shooters. Instead, they’ll target anything and everything they can remotely conjure applying. It’s not about keeping people safe, it’s about keeping you from owning certain guns and, by extension, any gun.

If Moody’s efforts prove fruitless, though, I’m not overly worried, I suspect Florida voters would soundly reject such a ban anyway. Of course, that’s only if pro-gun groups educate people sufficiently on what this proposal is really talking about.