Feb. 11–Possibly coming to the ballot in Florida in 2020: A decision on whether to ban possession of assault weapons.

A group that includes survivors and family members of victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School turned in its first few hundred signatures Monday. That means the group, Ban Assault Weapons Now, still has a long road to travel to get to the 776,000 signatures it will need to get on the ballot in the next general election.

Successful previous ballot initiatives have required millions of dollars to fund petition drives, often with one or a handful of wealthy backers steering the process. In this case, Republican megadonor Al Hoffman Jr., who previously announced he would no longer donate to candidates that don’t support an assault weapons ban, is supporting the effort through a second group, Americans for Gun Safety Now, which has kicked in $75,000 to Ban Assault Weapons Now, though much, much more will need to come.

The chair of Ban Assault Weapons Now, Gail Schwartz, lost her nephew, Alex Schachter, in the Stoneman Douglas shooting. She penned an opinion piece for the Sun Sentinel outlining her reasons for pushing for the ban.

Could the amendment get the 60 percent of votes it would need to pass? We want to know what you think. Would you support a ban on the possession of assault weapons in Florida?

And before we get bogged down in firearms pedantry, when we say “assault weapons,” what we’re talking about is the definition of assault weapons in the proposed constitutional amendment. Namely: “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition at once, either in a fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition-feeding device.”

That’s a somewhat stricter definition than you might find elsewhere, including in the federal assault weapons ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004. That law banned semiautomatic rifles that accepted detachable magazines and had two or more of the following: folding stocks, pistol grips, bayonet mounts, flash suppressors or grenade launcher mounts. It also banned some semiautomatic pistols and shotguns that included separate lists of add-ons.


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