Push to let Florida voters decide gun restrictions fails
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Floridians won't get a chance to vote this fall on adding gun control restrictions to the state constitution.
A powerful but somewhat obscure state panel today rejected several proposed restrictions – including a ban on types of semi-automatic rifles – on procedural grounds.
The move by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission comes more than a month after 17 people were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The killings shook Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature into action. Legislators defied the National Rifle Association by passing a far-reaching law that raised the age limit to purchase a rifle to 21 and put in a waiting period for rifle purchases.
Some Stoneman students and family members of victims wanted voters to be able to weigh in as well. Tony Montalto, whose daughter was among those slain, had asked commissioners earlier this month to take action because the NRA filed a federal lawsuit against the new law.
The commission meets every 20 years and has the authority ask voters to make changes to the state constitution. Its members were appointed by Gov. Rick Scott, legislative leaders and the chief justice of the Supreme Court.
A majority of commissioners said it would be wrong to waive the panel's rules in order to consider the gun-control measures since they were being attached to another proposal that had nothing to do with guns.
"I do agree that ideas should not scare us, but not following the rule – the rules that we all share by being on this commission – should scare everyone," said Attorney General Pam Bondi, one of the commission's 37 members.
After the meeting, Bondi said she did not agree with placing any of the restrictions in the constitution because the Legislature had already acted.