Recently, a group calling themselves “Ban Assault Weapons NOW” proposed a Florida Constitutional Amendment that prohibits assault weapons and requires registration be added to the 2020 Florida election ballot.
Now in order to put it on the ballot in 2020, they will have to exceed 750,000 valid signatures on the petitions. Then they must get 60 percent of Florida voters to vote in favor of it. While we like to think that is unlikely, stranger things have happened. Just look at the recent elections and some of those elected, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and you will see just how far away from the middle of the road we have gone.
Looking into this lunacy further, we find the definition that they want to use for “assault weapon”: “Assault Weapons – For purposes of this subsection, any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than 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.”
Read that carefully. If you know anything about firearms this would apply to most semi-automatic rifles, even some shotguns. If that was not bad enough, what the “Limitations” states should make you cringe: “If a person had lawful possession of an assault weapon prior to the effective date of this subsection, the person’s possession of that assault weapon is not unlawful (1) during the first year after the effective date of this subsection, or (2), after the person has registered that weapon by make, model, and serial number with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or its successor agency, as designated by the legislature. Registration records shall be available to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies for valid law enforcement purposes but shall otherwise be confidential.” So, in other words, they want to grandfather in already-owned firearms, and you have to register them within one year.
So what is the punishment or penalty for not doing this? You become an instant felon! Here are the penalties: “Criminal Penalties – Violation of this subsection is a third-degree felony. The legislature may designate greater, but not lesser, penalties for violations.” So if you fail to register your assault weapon within a year you are a felon. If you buy or take into your possession an assault weapon (by their definition) you are a felon.
Let us look at this logically. Just exactly what would this do to reduce the crime rate or shootings or mass shootings? Nothing. Murder is already against the law. Taking a firearm onto school grounds is already illegal. Harming someone without a lawful reason is illegal. So the only thing this proposal will do is make felons out of hundreds of thousands —if not millions— of Floridians. There is not one shred of evidence that this would reduce anything.
Then there is the little problem of resistance to this proposed amendment/law. I for one will go on record saying that I will not comply with this if it becomes part of the constitution. You do not legislate through Constitutional Amendment, you make laws through the Florida House and Senate. The reason for that is to prevent exactly what this group is trying to do: prevent the possibility of a majority taking away the rights of a minority. As James Madison once said: “The purpose of the Constitution is to restrict the majority’s ability to harm a minority.”
Florida has the highest number of concealed carry permit holders in the United States. Currently, it is at 1,941,097 as of October 31st, 2018. While not all of those may be rifle owners, I would be willing to bet a good number are. These are people that have shown less propensity to commit a crime than even the police in Florida, yet they want to restrict them even more. In what reality does that make any sense?
So I guess I should close by going on the official record. As a 35-plus year veteran law enforcement officer in Florida and U.S. Army veteran, I will not comply with this should it pass. I am sorry but there comes a time when the purpose of the 2nd Amendment becomes obvious: to protect the citizens from the over-reaching of the government they elected. They tried to take firearms from the citizens of the United States once before, in 1775, and we ended up shooting those that tried and kicking them out of the country. Think about that.