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Could Florida voters get chance to ban semiautomatic rifles?

Broward officials want to put question on the 2020 ballot

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – On "This Week in South Florida" with Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg, several Broward County leaders called for a question on the 2020 Florida ballot to ask voters to ban semi-automatic weapons.  

Coral Springs Mayor Skip Cambell and former state Sen. Chris Smith, a member of the constitution revision commission, weighed in after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Many of the student survivors of the Parkland shooting have pressed state lawmakers to ban weapons like the AR-15 rifle used by gunman Nikolas Cruz. Multiple attempts to bring a ban to the Florida House and Senate floors failed during the previous legislation session.

Now many South Florida officials said that if lawmakers refuse to act then voters should decide the issue.

Sixty-two percent of voters favored a ban on "assault weapons" in a recent Quinnipiac University poll. However, the term "assault weapons" can cover a wide range of weapons and it’s unclear if the poll respondents would support banning all semiautomatic weapons.

"We’re not trying to take everybody’s guns away. We’re not trying to say that people should not have their Second Amendment rights," Campbell said.  "We’re just trying to say that certain weapons were not considered by our founders when they started the Second Amendment, and they should not be used in civilian population."

Smith said he supported the referendum idea, but he acknowledged that the effort faces an uphill battle to get onto the ballot.

"You can keep your handguns. You can keep your rifles that shoot less than 10 rounds at a time. But at some point, you got to look at it and stop trying to pigeon-hole everything as it wouldn't have stopped this tragedy." Smith said.

About the Author:

Elsa Bolt is a South Florida native and an Emmy Award Winning Executive News Producer. She entered the news industry in 2008 and has spent most of her career with Local 10 News.