Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) on Thursday took issue with Governor-elect Ron DeSantis’ statements that Amendment 4, which automatically restores ex-felons’ voting rights, needed an act of the legislature in order for voter registrations to commence early next month. [Read more…] about Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson to Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis: “As a constitutionalist, you should know better.”
Florida Senate Democratic Office
As Orange County officials ready to discuss new measures aimed at curbing the gun violence epidemic, state Senator Linda Stewart on Monday urged the mayor and commissioners to first take stronger action closing a loophole allowing many questionable gun buyers to remain under the radar.
“I applaud the county for doing something, but we need strong, specific, and direct action that has been ignored so far,” said Senator Stewart. The Orlando Democrat was referring to a memo sent last month from Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs to County Commissioners that outlined gun control proposals, but omitted closing gun show loopholes and adding longer waiting periods.
Senator Stewart and other long-time leaders in the movement for gun safety have long called for such proactive safety measures to be enacted.
In a letter to the mayor, Senator Stewart urged county officials to include closing the gun show loophole, which continues to allow buyers to purchase firearms from private sellers without undergoing any background checks, and to lengthen waiting periods to 5-days.
“Especially in our community, failure to do everything we can to prevent senseless and unnecessary gun violence like the tragedy at Pulse nightclub and recently at Parkland school is absolutely unacceptable,” said Stewart, who has been a fierce gun control advocate following the Pulse massacre. Since her election to the Florida Senate in 2016, Senator Stewart has filed bills and amendments to ban assault weapons, ban bump-fire stocks, and additional measures to curb gun violence and honor the victims of Pulse. She plans to file legislation to address an operational statewide database, which she hopes will be eventually picked up as universal database for our country.
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.