In an effort to give Florida voters a chance to decide for themselves whether civilians should possess weapons of war, former Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith today filed an amendment with the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) which, if the voters agree, would ban assault weapons in The Sunshine State.
“Since the 2016 horrific shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and especially after the Valentine’s Day tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School, Floridians have signaled their support for an assault weapons ban,” said Smith, who is currently a member of the 2017-2018 CRC and may directly submit an amendment proposal. “Since the Legislature did not act, I wanted to give the people the power to decide for themselves.”
The CRC is a 37-member organization established every 20 years, tasked with reviewing the state constitution and recommending any needed changes. Members are appointed by the Governor, Attorney General, the Supreme Court Chief Justice, Senate President and House Speaker.
Under Smith’s proposal the sale or transfer of assault weapons would be prohibited. The legislature may enact legislation within the amendment’s framework to provide exceptions to the prohibition on the transfer of assault weapons legally possessed prior to the effective date of the ban.
In his amendment, an “assault weapon” is defined as a semiautomatic rifle that is able to accept a detachable magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that is capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition, or that has a fixed magazine capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition.
The amendment, which will now undergo vetting by the CRC committee process, must garner 22 votes by the full CRC membership in order to appear on the November 2018 ballot.
If successful, and if 60 percent of Florida’s voters then sign off on the Smith amendment, the assault weapons ban would become part of Florida’s state constitution.