Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, vowed in August that she would file bills seeking to ban three different types of “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines” during the 2020 legislative session.
Stewart Wednesday followed through with one of those pledges when she filed Senate Bill 794, which would make Florida the 10th state to ban the sale, possession, import and transfer of magazines that can carry more than 10 bullets effective Oct. 1, 2020.
“It’s time to take action and the research is clear – banning ‘large-capacity magazines’ is the single most meaningful step we can take to protect our citizens from senseless mass shootings,” she said in a statement.
Stewart cited research by Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University that concluded states with magazine capacity restrictions have a 63 percent lower rate of mass shootings than those without them – and that whether a state has a large capacity ammunition magazine ban is the single best predictor of the mass shooting rate in that state.
“Forcing a gunman, intent on inflicting mass casualties, to reload after 10 rounds can often buy precious time for individuals to escape or fight back,” Stewart said. “And it opens a brief window for law enforcement to move in.”
Stewart’s statement cited a Giffords Law Center study that documented “large-capacity magazines” have been used in all 10 of the deadliest mass shootings in the last decade, including in 2017’s Las Vegas massacre, and the 2019 Dayton mass shooting, where the shooter fired at least 41 rounds in 30 seconds.
Noting the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission limits hunters to magazines that carry no more than five rounds, she asked: “If we cap magazine capacity to preserve wildlife, why can’t we cap it to protect human life?”
SB 794, which has not yet been assigned to committees, is similar to SB 558, which was pre-filed on Oct. 17 by Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Orlando.
SB 558 also would limit magazine capacities to 10 and prohibit their sale, transfer or possession and provide criminal penalties, although Stewart’s proposal includes enhanced penalties for importing and for accommodating possession by those under 21.
SB 558 has been referred to Senate Infrastructure & Security, Criminal Justice and Appropriations committees where it awaits hearings in either pre-session primers or once the 2020 session begins on Jan. 14.
According to the National Council of State Legislatures, nine states and the District of Columbia have adopted various types of “large-capacity magazine” restrictions.
In addition to her “forthcoming bill banning specific assault weapons,” Stewart – who has filed proposed “assault weapons” bans the three previous sessions – has also filed a 2020 bill proposing to regulate or ban untraceable, undetectable “ghost guns,” self-assembled hard plastic firearms that can be built from kits or molded from 3D-printer blueprints.
SB 310, pre-filed by Stewart on Sept. 17, would prohibit anyone from printing, transferring, importing into Florida, possessing or giving to another person in Florida, a 3D-printed firearm that contains less than 4 ounces of metal.
The bill awaits hearings before the Senate Infrastructure & Security, Judiciary and Rules committees.
“We owe it to our citizens to stand up and implement these common-sense solutions. Floridians should be free to enjoy their lives without having to fear the possibility of a mass shooting,” Stewart said.
In the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio in August, Stewart said she would propose legislation prohibiting the sale of three specific groups of “assault weapons” – Sig Sauers, AR-15s, AK-47s – and restricting magazine capacities.
Stewart’s 2020 assault weapon bill would require “all assault weapons or high capacity magazines possessed prior to Oct. 1, 2020, be accompanied with a certificate of possession.”
Such a bill has not yet been filed although a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to ban a broader interpretation of “assault weapons” is vying for the November 2020 ballot.
Ban Assault Weapons Now’s (BAWN) citizen-initiated measure had 117,359 of the 766,200 signatures necessary by Feb. 1 to qualify for November’s election.
The prospective ballot measure has qualified for a mandated Florida Supreme Court review of its language, which has drawn the ire of Attorney General Ashley Moody.
The vagaries in defining “assault weapon” in the ballot language could outlaw a wide range of semi-automatics, which is why Moody has asked the court to block the ballot initiative.
“It’s deceitful and misleading,” Moody said about the language. “This particular amendment would mislead voters into thinking they were banning a specific type of firearm when, in fact, they were banning virtually every long gun including those that have been passed down from generation to generation in Florida.”