In a 4-1 ruling handed down last week, the Florida Supreme Court said that a proposed ballot initiative summary was deceptive and shouldn’t be put before voters.
At stake was an initiative that aimed to define and prohibit “assault weapons” in the state of Florida, a question intended to ask of voters in the Sunshine State in 2022. Brought by the group “Ban Assault Weapons Now,” the move would outlaw various popular semi-auto rifles and shotguns, under threat of criminal prosecution, with exemptions for police and the military.
The court took exception that the proposed summary of the initiative was hazy on grandfathering guns already in circulation.
“While the ballot summary purports to exempt registered assault weapons lawfully possessed prior to the Initiative’s effective date, the Initiative does not categorically exempt the assault weapon, only the current owner’s possession of that assault weapon,” wrote the majority of the state’s high court in their opinion. “The ballot summary is therefore affirmatively misleading.”
The court had taken the proposed language of the initiative under review last summer at the request of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody who called the summary “deceitful” in an interview. “It is so far-reaching and misleading, it would also include guns like the gun my grandfather gave my father and his brother when they were 9 and 10, 60 years ago,” she said.
Also opposed to the initiative were firearm industry groups like the National Shooting Sports Foundation and Second Amendment organizations such as the National Rifle Association.
“The ballot initiative contained deceptive language to fool Florida voters in an attempt to ban millions of legal, commonly used firearms and shut down legitimate businesses all around Florida,” Marion Hammer, a past president of the NRA and the executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida, told Guns.com in an email. “Supporters of the gun ban initiative used deceptive language to try to trick voters into supporting their gun ban claiming it would do one thing while knowing it would do much more.”
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