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Florida gun safety group wins first step for assault weapons ban

By
Clyde Hughes
A sign is seen in North Community Park in Parkland, Fla., on March 10, 2018, about one month after the attack that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. File Photo by Gary Rothstein/UPI
A sign is seen in North Community Park in Parkland, Fla., on March 10, 2018, about one month after the attack that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. File Photo by Gary Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

June 10 (UPI) -- A group of gun control activists said Monday it's collected enough petition signatures in Florida to force a review by the state Supreme Court for a proposed ballot initiative that would ban the sale of assault weapons.

Ban Assault Weapons Now made the announcement at the Orange County Supervisors office. Orlando, the county seat, was the location of the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016, in which the gunman killed 49 people with an assault weapon.

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The group, which said it's gathered more than 103,000 signatures for the ballot initiative since February, is made up of survivors from the shootings at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the Pulse night club. They hope the review will lead to a state constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot to ban Florida sales of semiautomatic rifles and shotguns that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

"Hundreds of thousands of Floridians across the state are getting behind this effort to place a ban on the ballot, because they know that this isn't a partisan issue -- this is an issue of public safety," BAWN Chair Gail Schwartz, the aunt of slain Parkland student Alex Schachter, said in a statement.

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The Supreme Court review is a mandatory step toward putting an initiative on the ballot, but the group still needs more than 766,000 signatures total for it to appear before voters next year.

If passed, the proposed amendment would exempt assault-style weapons that were previously owned legally, but require they be registered. It would not impact handgun sales in Florida. The proposal would also make it illegal for anyone to own fully automatic and large-magazine weapons, except the National Guard and Florida police forces.

A Florida lobbyist for the National Rifle Association spoke out against the measure earlier this year, saying it would outlaw "practically every rifle and shotgun in America today with the exception single-shot bolt action rifles or single-shot shotguns by calling them assault weapons."

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