Florida Initiative Might Ban All Semi-Auto Long Guns
A group called Ban Assault Weapons Now FL has filed an initiative in Florida to put an assault weapons ban on the ballot for the 2020 election. This proposed initiative would ban “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once, either in a fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition-feeding device.” This is very broad language, and it goes far beyond any assault weapons ban I am aware of, including that of California.
Notably, however, handguns are specifically excluded from the language of this initiative, meaning that AR pistols would likely not be covered by the ban, as they are handguns as defined in the Florida Constitution.
Should one choose to keep their dastardly “assault weapon” after the initiative passes, the text says, they must register it “by make, model, and serial number” with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Registration records are supposed to be kept confidential except for law enforcement use.
At first, I thought, the language in this initiative is pretty clever. “Any semi auto rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once” seems like a catch-all. And it is, in a way – anyone with a Ruger 10/22 will have to register it as an assault weapon. But that’s exactly the problem – this initiative will essentially require everyone with any semi-auto rifle or shotgun to register it as an assault weapon, and it will completely ban sales of semi-auto long guns in Florida.
That’s because the phrase “capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once” leaves open the possibility that the weapon will use magazines or other feeding devices not in the user’s possession. Essentially every semi-auto rifle or shotgun – with the possible exception of rifles that use clips like the Rifle M1 (Garand) – can accept some sort of box or tube magazine that holds more than 10 rounds.
Think your bird hunting shotgun is safe? Think again. A semi auto shotgun like a Benelli M2 can accept a longer magazine tube, just as an AR can hold a 5 round or a 30 round magazine. Even the legendary Auto 5 from 1905 can take a longer tube. You might think, or hope, that a court would rule that shotgun magazine tubes are modifications not covered by the ban, and that would not put a non-modified shotgun into the banned category, but even that might not make you safe.
The fact that your shotgun tube might be able to hold more than 10 mini shells – actually, more than 9 mini shells, because the shell in the chamber would count towards “10 rounds of ammunition at once” – in a standard tube makes it an assault weapon. That your semi-auto shotgun probably wouldn’t cycle with those mini shells is not an listed as an exemption by the proposed initiative. That it was never intended for use with shells shorter than 2 ¾” is not listed as an exemption either. The fact that it might hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition at a time is all that matters. If enough ammo can be crammed inside, it is “capable of holding more than ten rounds at once.”
This is a very, very poorly written law – not only from the perspective of gun rights proponents, but also from the perspective of a gun control proponent. Why? Because handguns are excepted. All you would need to do if this law passes is to sell your AR rifle lowers, buy AR pistol or never-built-as-a-rifle lower receivers, and reassemble your new AR pistol collection. Because this initiative doesn’t ban magazines containing more than ten rounds, though, you wouldn’t have to get rid of any of your mags. You’d hardly notice the effect of this law.
You could own a dozen AR pistols and a hundred 30 round magazines and you would be completely exempt from this law, while your duck hunting uncle would become a felon because he didn’t register his old Browning Auto 5.
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