State Estimators Struggle To Define Assault Weapon

Jul 30, 2019

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What sounds really simple is turning out to be a lot more complicated than perhaps sponsors of an assault weapon ban thought. State estimators are struggling to define what the wording of the proposed ban would mean should it pass.

Ban Assault Weapons Now is a group aiming to do just that. They were formed after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting. And their constitutional amendment petition has gathered nearly 100 thousand signatures, triggering an automatic review from the Supreme Court. But thanks to a new law, state financial estimators must also create a report showing the economic impact on the economy and state budget.

To do so they must first understand what the amendment does. Tuesday they learned about firearms from FDLE crime laboratory analyst John Romeo. "Firearms are basically divided into two types," explained Romeo. "Handguns which are then broken down into pistols and revolvers and what were more concerned with today which is long guns. Long guns are meant to be fired from the shoulder and within that group rifles and shotguns." 

The amendment would ban the possession of semiautomatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once. Katie Cunningham from the Governor’s office questioned Romeo about what capable meant.  

“Majority of the firearms are semiautomatic rifles that are fed from a detachable box magazine, said Romeo. "So to answer your question the capacity would be determined by the size of that magazine.”

Cunningham says defining it that way adds a lot of guns to the list even if they aren’t being used to fire more than 10 rounds.

“Whether I had a 5 round, 10 round, 15, whatever, I mean it would still be capable of holding, in theory, more than 10 that would then put it in the parameters of this ban," explained Cunningham.

But that’s not how Gail Schwartz Ban Assault Weapons Now chairwoman sees it.  She wasn’t at the meeting but last month in an interview month said the ban is an attempt to prevent weapons she says are designed for mass murder.

“What we’re trying to do is prevent the sale of military grade assault weapons such as the AR-15 and the AK-47 being sold in the state of Florida," said Schwartz.

On Monday, Attorney General Ashley Moody called the ballot misleading and believes it should not be submitted to voters. She says defining assault weapons the way they did would virtually ban the possession of every semi-automatic long-gun. State Estimators said they have several more questions about the language and want a spokesperson from Ban Assault Weapons Now to be present at the next meeting along with The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. That meeting takes place on August 16th.