Florida has a means of amending its Constitution through ballot initiatives. A special interest group hires some people to collect signatures in favor of a new amendment, and once enough people have signed, it is placed on the ballot. Should 60 percent of the voters on election day favor that amendment, it becomes part of the constitution.

This process was famously used to outlaw keeping pregnant pigs in pens, even though it later turned out that the small pens were needed to keep pregnant sows from trampling their young. The law only affected two farmers, who sued the state and at least one was awarded half a million dollars in damages.

Thanks to tricky wording, many voters in 2016 thought they were voting to approve casino gambling in Florida when they voted for an amendment backed by Disney and the Indian tribes, but instead voted to guarantee that we would never see casino gambling outside of an Indian reservation in this state, because any casino to be opened will now require approval of voters in a statewide referendum.

So there was an interest group that attempted to put an assault weapons ban on the ballot. Today, the state Supreme Court removed that initiative from the ballot. (pdf alert). The ban would have amended the state Constitution to add the following language:

 The possession of an assault weapon, as that term is defined in this
subsection, is prohibited in Florida except as provided in this
subsection. This subsection shall be construed in conformity with the
Second Amendment to the United States Constitution as interpreted
by the United States Supreme Court.
1) Definitions –
 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
c) Ammunition-feeding device – For purposes of this
subsection, any magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or
similar device for a firearm.
2) Limitations –
a) This subsection shall not apply to military or law
enforcement use, or use by federal personnel, in conduct
of their duties, or to an assault weapon being imported
for sale and delivery to a federal, state or local
governmental agency for use by employees of such
agencies to perform official duties.
b) This subsection does not apply to any firearm that is
not semiautomatic, as defined in this subsection.
c) This subsection does not apply to handguns, as defined
in Article I, Section 8(b), Florida Constitution.
d) 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
during the first year after the effective date of this
subsection, or
            (2) after the person has registered with the
Florida Department of Law Enforcement or a successor
agency, within one year of the effective date of this
subsection, by providing a sworn or attested statement,
that the weapon was lawfully in his or her possession
prior to the effective date of this subsection and by
identifying the weapon by make, model, and serial
number. The agency must provide and the person must
retain proof of registration in order for possession to
remain lawful under this subsection.
Registration records shall be available on a permanent basis to local, state and
federal law enforcement agencies for valid law
enforcement purposes but shall otherwise be confidential.
3) Criminal Penalties – Violation of this subsection is a thirddegree felony. The legislature may designate greater but not
lesser, penalties for violations.
4) Self-executing – This provision shall be self-executing except
where legislative action is authorized in subsection (3) to
designate a more severe penalty for violation of this subsection.
No legislative or administrative action may conflict with,
diminish or delay the requirements of this subsection.
5) Severability – The provisions of this subsection are
severable. If any clause, sentence, paragraph, section or
subsection of this measure, or an application thereof, is
adjudged invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, other
provisions shall continue to be in effect to the fullest extent
6) Effective date – The effective date of this amendment shall
be thirty days after its passage by the voters.

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1 Comment

Angus McThag · June 5, 2020 at 1:32 am

The same ballot initiative that failed to garner enough votes to make the ballot anyway?

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