Sep 28, 2019

Florida gun control activists push to get assault weapon ban on 2020 ballot

A memorial setup for those killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Gun control advocates in Florida are pushing to meet a February deadline for enough signatures to get a proposed constitutional amendment banning assault weapons on the 2020 ballot, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: If successful, the ballot measure would place some of the tightest limits on the weapons most commonly used in mass shootings. It would "outlaw all new semiautomatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition in either a fixed or detachable magazine," per the WSJ.

The big picture: Semiautomatic rifles like AR-15s and AK-47s have been used in some of the deadliest mass shootings in the U.S., including in Parkland, Orlando and Las Vegas.

Ban Assault Weapons Now, the political action committee promoting the effort, is comprised of survivors and relatives of victims of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland and the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, which collectively killed 66 people.

  • They face a long road ahead, having only reached 106,000 of the 766,000 signatures needed by February. The ballot language for the measure must also be approved by Florida's conservative-leaning state Supreme Court.
  • 59% of Florida voters support a ban on the sale of guns classified as assault weapons, according to a Quinnipiac poll in June. Amendments in Florida need 60% voter support to pass, per WSJ.

Go deeper: The deadliest mass shootings all have assault weapons in common

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Where 2020 Democrats stand on gun control

Warren and Biden on the debate stage on Jan. 14. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced a new gun reform bill on Thursday with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) that calls for raising the minimum age for all gun purchases to 21 and increasing the excise tax on gun sales to 30% and ammunition sales to 50%.

The big picture: 2019's mass shootings in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; Virginia Beach; and near Odessa, Texas, have pushed 2020 Democrats to take harder stances on gun control than in the last presidential election, when Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton only briefly addressed the issue in their primary debate.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Barr outlines mass shootings prevention plan

Attorney General Bill Barr at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Forensic Science Center in Topeka, Kansas, this month. Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr outlined in a memo released Wednesday plans to adopt terrorism prevention initiatives to stop mass shootings via "forward leaning" strategies via court-ordered mental health treatment, supervision and counseling.

Driving the news: Activism around gun violence increased following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton in August, per Axios' Neal Rothschild.

Go deeperArrowOct 24, 2019

Beto ignites split among 2020 Democrats on guns

O’Rourke speaks at the gun forum in Las Vegas Tuesday. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS — Beto O'Rourke's proposal to implement a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons ignited a split among 2020 Democrats at the Giffords/March for Our Lives gun safety forum on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The caution around the issue shows how some in the field are being careful to distance themselves from what they view as a polarizing position and are instead sticking with pushing a voluntary buyback program as a way to appeal to the center.

Go deeperArrowOct 3, 2019