Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Just days short of the three-year anniversary of the mass shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse, the gun reform group Ban Assault Weapons NOW! announced Monday it had collected enough petitions to trigger a constitutional review for an amendment to ban assault weapons.
The announcement was made at the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office. At the press conference, Pulse survivors, elected officials and community leaders gathered to declare they had collected more than 103,000 petitions. In a news release, the group says that means they're on track to meet the required threshold to place the citizens initiative on the 2020 ballot, banning the sale of sale assault weapons statewide.
"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," says Ban Assault Weapons NOW! founder Gail Schwartz, the aunt of Parkland victim Alex Schachter, in the release. "We are confident the amendment will make it onto the ballot and be signed into law in 2020, because Floridians are tired of politicians offering nothing but thoughts and prayers, as families like my own are left to mourn from the latest mass shooting due to a military-grade weapon."
Also in attendance were U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee; state Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, and Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando; League of Women Voters of Florida president Patricia Brigham; and several of the lives that were directly affected by the Pulse shooting that claimed 49 lives, including the mothers of victims Drew Leinonen and Amanda Alvear and Pulse shooting survivor Ricardo Negron-Almodovar.
"Three years ago, 49 lives were taken by hate at Pulse nightclub," Smith says. "With today's announcement, we are one step closer in our fight to ensure that tragedies like the one here in Orlando never happen again."
If approved via the state's constitutional amendment process, Florida would join seven other states and D.C. in enacting assault weapons bans.
Under state law, 76,632 petitions are required for a ballot initiative to qualify for the state Supreme Court review on the 2020 ballot.
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