Ballot measures to ban 'assault weapons' floated in Florida, Oregon

This week a Florida commission scuttled a move to put a proposed weapon ban in front of Sunshine State voters while a similar effort is just getting underway in Oregon.

Weathering political fallout from a high-profile school shooting in the state, the Florida Constitutional Review Commission became a battleground between those pushing a series of bans and restrictions on “assault weapons” and those determined to keep the issue off the ballot in November. In the end, the proposals were found to be out-of-order, or not considered as they had not been heard in prior meetings by the body.

“The Commissioners proposing the gun ban and gun control amendments appealed the ruling of the Chair and tried all avenues to convince other Commissioners to ignore the rules, waive the rules and just plain violate the rules,” said Marion Hammer, a past NRA president and executive director of the group’s Florida affiliate. “So, for today, the rule of law and responsible leadership prevailed, and our Constitution is safe from those who have no respect for the sanctity of the Constitution.”

Since 1977, the 37-member body has met three times, every two decades, to consider possible changes to the state’s constitution. Currently, the panel has seen over 800 proposals submitted by commissioners and the public, with a deadline for new measures set for last October.

“This is a once-in-20-years issue,” said Commissioner Roberto Martinez, a Miami Republican, whose proposed amendment adding gun control additions recently signed into law to the constitution was among those found out-of-order. “Please do not give up this opportunity.”

Among those who lobbied against adding the anti-gun measures to the ballot were state Attorney General Pam Bondi and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran.


On Monday, three Portland area religious leaders — Episcopal minister Alcena Boozer, Rabbi Michael Cahana, and Lutheran pastor Walter Knutson — filed Initiative 42 with the Oregon Secretary of State’s office, a ballot proposal whose title touts increased public safety “through the reduction of assault weapons and large capacity magazines.” A multi-faith effort, the group’s treasurer is Imam Muhammad Najieb, of the Muslim Community Center of Portland. Organizers hope to tap into grassroots student movements popping up in the state following the Parkland school shooting in Florida.

“Young people in this country are crying out,” Knutson said. “This is the moment in time where we need to step alongside them as adults and do our part with them.”

The five-page text of the measure would outlaw a wide swath of semi-auto firearms as well as detachable magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. If approved by voters, it would require owners of targeted guns and accessories to destroy them, hand them over to police, move them out of Oregon, or register them with state officials.

Second Amendment advocates argue the latest push by the group discredits the common trope that “nobody wants to take your guns” as the proposed ban is sweeping in its scope.

“Gun owners across the country need to wake up to the insidious nature of the anti-gun movement,” said Alan Gottlieb with the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. “The gun control effort is no longer hiding its true intent, which is to ban guns, disarm law-abiding citizens and turn the Second Amendment into eraser dust.”

To begin the ballot process, organizers must submit 1,000 sponsorship signatures and, once drafted, would have to cough up 88,184 supporters by July 6 to move the initiative forward to voters.

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