Florida’s Attorney General opposing assault weapon ban measure

    One Year Anniversary Parkland tragedy
    Sheena Billups prepares to lay flowers in a memorial at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, one year after the mass shooting on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Getty Images photo by Joe Raedle

    Attorney General Ashley Moody is asking the Florida Supreme Court to reject a citizen proposal to ban assault weapons.

    In a filing late Friday, the Republican attorney general says the state’s highest court should reject the amendment for the 2020 ballot because the measure’s wording is misleading.

    The group, Ban Assault Weapons NOW, is gathering voter signatures, and has collected some 99,266 validated signatures as of Monday, according to the state Division of Elections. The petition drive will need 766,200 signatures to win a place on next year’s ballot. But the amendment’s supporters have collected enough signatures to trigger a state Supreme Court review of the amendment language.

    As part of that review, Moody filed her objection. She says the ballot language is “clearly and conclusively defective” and that voters would not be able to understand “the true meaning and ramifications” of the proposal.

    “Specifically, the ballot title and summary do not inform Florida’s electorate that, by defining ‘assault weapons’ as ‘any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition…in a fixed or detachable magazine,’ the amendment would ban the possession of virtually every semiautomatic long-gun,” Mood wrote in her court filing.

    “To be included on the ballot, the sprawling practical effect of the amendment must be revealed in the ballot language,” she wrote. “Because that effect is not revealed, the ballot language is deficient.”

    Gail Schwartz, chair of the Ban Assault Weapons NOW group, slammed Moody’s objection.

    “It’s not surprising that the attorney general is now openly opposing measures to protect families, playing politics with Floridians’ lives in order to appease the NRA. Year after year, elected officials like Ashley Moody have done nothing on this issue, as more and more families like my own are forced to reckon with the loss of our loved ones due to military-grade assault weapons at Parkland, at Pulse, or at the next mass shooting,” Schwartz said in a statement first reported by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

    Schwartz is the aunt of Alex Schachter, one of the students who died in the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County. Seventeen students and staff members died in the tragedy.

    Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, also criticized Moody’s decision.

    “Attorney General Ashley Moody is attempting to stop voters from being able to vote to protect their families. Floridians are tired of waiting for NRA’s favorite politicians to act, they want these deadly weapons off our streets and away from our families. Moody isn’t fighting for Florida, she is fighting to keep her A- rating with the NRA,” Rizzo said in a written statement.

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