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Florida Supreme Court Nixes Effort To Ban Assault Weapons

assault weapons
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Supporters of the Ban Assault Weapons Now initiative did not submit enough petition signatures to make it on the 2020 ballot but needed support from the Supreme Court to go before voters in 2022.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to ban the possession of assault-style weapons does not meet requirements to be placed on the ballot in Florida.

Supporters of the Ban Assault Weapons Now initiative did not submit enough petition signatures to make it on the 2020 ballot but needed support from the Supreme Court to go before voters in 2022.

Attorney General Ashley Moody, the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation submitted briefs to the court in opposition to the measure, while gun-control groups such as Brady and several South Florida cities backed the proposal.

The Supreme Court considers whether ballot titles and summaries -- the wording that voters would see at polling places -- meet legal requirements.

It does not decide on the merits of the initiatives.

Thursday’s 4 to 1 decision found that the proposal “misleads voters to believe that any lawfully possessed assault weapons will continue to remain lawful.”

NRA lawyer George Levesque says the court got it right.

“It is a huge victory for those who enjoy their Second Amendment rights,” Levesque said. “But it is also a victory for the people of Florida, in terms of making sure that when they are asked to amend their constitution, they are going to get an accurate description of what the amendment does.”

Chief Justice Charles Canady and justices Ricky Polston, Alan Lawson and Carlos Muñiz were in the majority on the ruling, while Justice Jorge Labarga dissented.

Supporters of the proposal wanted to prohibit the possession of semi-automatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once.