U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)-Anti-Second Amendment activists in Florida are working to have a state Constitutional Amendment placed on the ballot for 2020. The Amendment would ban future sales of almost all semi-automatic rifles, some semi-automatic shotguns, and require registration of those currently owned.
The problem with having people who are proudly ignorant about firearms technology draft a referendum, is they know just enough to create supremely stupid and ineffective laws.
Here is the definition from the proposed state Constitutional amendment. From bawnfl.org:
a)Assault Weapons –For purposes of this subsection, any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than ten (10) rounds of ammunition at once, either in a fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition–feeding device. This subsection does not apply to handguns.
b)Semiautomatic –For purposes of this subsection, any weapon which fires a single projectile or a number of ball shots through a rifled or smooth bore for each single function of the trigger without further manual action required.c)Ammunition–feeding device –For purposes of this subsection, any magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device for a firearm.
Nearly all .22 semi-automatic rifles, qualify under this definition. .22 semi-automatic rifles, as a class, may be the most common rifles in the United States. They having been in production and popular since the 1914.
They have been produced by every major and many minor firearms manufacturers. There are tens of millions of them existing in the United States. Virtually all of them who use detachable magazines can accept magazines of more than 10 rounds; virtually all of them that use tubular fixed magazines accept over 10 rounds.
The Marlin rifle pictured holds 17 rounds in the magazine.
The Florida referendum petition catches most .22 rifles in its net, rifles that are very rarely used in crime, rifles that only the most zealous of hoplophobes would describe as “assault weapons”.
At the same time, the referendum excludes all handguns. It is easy to understand why. The Supreme Court, in the Heller decision, specifically held that handguns were arms protected by the Second Amendment. In addition, handguns are extremely popular in Florida, as is concealed carry. Florida currently has about two million active concealed carry permits.
Handguns are legally defined items in the law. The referendum is specifically aimed at AR15 style rifles. The referendum authors either do not know, or do not care, that there are numerous AR15 style handguns.
AR15 style handguns use the same magazines the AR15 style rifles use. They use the same ammunition the AR15 style rifles use. They use nearly all the same accessories the AR15 style rifles use. Here is a picture of an AR15 style handgun, from AR15.com:
What looks like a stock on the AR15 pistol above, is a legal arm brace, as approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco, and Explosives (BATFE).
While the net cast by the Florida anti-assault captures almost all .22 rimfire semi-automatic rifles, it entirely misses pistols. This includes all AR15 style pistols, and others that use the popular pistol arm braces.
Because of fundamental definitions in United States law, pistols with arm braces and more than 10 round capacity magazines are becoming more and more popular.
The organizers of the Florida referendum have collected 100,000 signatures. That is the first step to put the Constitutional amendment on the ballot. From floridapolitics.com:
Organizers of a drive to have a proposed assault weapon ban constitutional amendment on Florida’s 2020 ballot said they have topped 100,000 signatures and expect to get a review of ballot language by the Florida Supreme Court any day.
The organizers have a long way to go. To put a Constitutional amendment on the ballot, they need 76,620 signatures to have the ballot title and summary approved by the Secretary of State. That is the purpose of the initial 100,000 signatures.
Then the organization has to collect another 666,200 valid signatures, for a total of 766,200, to have the measure put on the ballot for the 2020 election, possibly more, if some of the first 100,000 are determined to be invalid.
Once the measure is on the ballot, it has to be approved by 60% of the voters in the election to become an amendment of the Florida Constitution.
If it passed with 60% of the vote in 2020, it would immediately be challenged as unconstitutional under the Second Amendment of the United States. The Heller decision, while it was about handguns, clearly stated the Second Amendment that
“extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.” 554 U.S. 570, 582, 595 (2008).”
The promoters of the referendum are relying on the ignorance of voters, combined with an anti-Second Amendment media and massive funding from billionaire contributors, to pass it.
They are calculating most voters won't read or understand the definition, or know about the exception for pistols.
The language is unconstitutional on its face, but the past decade has shown the Supreme Court unwilling to hold most lower courts to its decision in Heller.
The two new Supreme Court justices appointed by President Trump should change that; it remains to be seen.
Billionaire activists have learned they can buy referenda when the media back them up.
They can lose; but it takes enormous effort and resources to fight them in a referendum, most particularly when the media work directly against you, as they have in Washington state.
It is too early to know what will happen in Florida with this ill-considered referendum.
It may not gain enough signatures. It may not gain enough votes.
It is another example of the proud ignorance of anti-Second Amendment activists.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.