Chris Smith proposes adding assault weapon ban to state constitution - Florida Politics

Chris Smith proposes adding assault weapon ban to state constitution

Saying there’d been no effort to address assault weapons in the Florida Legislature Session that just ended, Democratic former state Sen. Chris Smith has offered an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would ban them.

Smith, the former Senate Democratic leader from Fort Lauderdale who is one of 37 members of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, has introduced an amendment to the commission’s Committee Substitute for Proposal 3. His amendment would essentially be a strike-all after the opening clause and would change the proposal from one about the purchase and ownership of real property to one about the purchase and ownership of assault weapons.

“Since the 2016 horrific shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and especially after the Valentine’s Day tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School, Floridians have signaled their support for an assault weapons ban,” Smith said. “Since the Legislature did not act, I wanted to give the people the power to decide for themselves.”

His proposed amendment, were it to be adopted by the commission and voted favorably by 60 percent of Florida voters next fall, would ban such purchases.

“The sale or transfer of assault weapons, as defined in this subsection, is prohibited. The legislature may enact legislation consistent with this subsection, and may provide exceptions to the prohibition on the transfer of assault weapons legally possessed prior to the effective date of this subsection,” part of the amendment reads.

It could come up for commission consideration as early as Tuesday’s CRC meeting in St. Petersburg. Or not.

At a CRC meeting in Melbourne three weeks ago, dozens of public commenters requested that the CRC propose a constitutional amendment that might ban assault weapons. CRC Chairman Carlos Beruff offered no interest at all in re-opening what has been an eight-month process that came up with the 37 active proposals on the commission’s table, and none of them had anything to do with guns.

Smith said things have changed, and he’s convinced such an amendment would be immediately topical and well in keeping with the commission’s mission.

“Sometimes you have to react to things people want done. This is a way for the commission to say, ‘OK, this is an issue that didn’t come up, but it can be brought in now,'” Smith said.

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at


  1. We asked the CRC to ban assault weapons at the CRC meetingin Melbourne, not hand guns. Very good to see one member take action.

    1. Too bad it’s in violation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Which has basically nothing to do with handguns.

    1. Good luck with that. Do you knew what it would take to replace /rewrite the 2nd Amendment? It would take a 2/3 approval by both chambers of the US Congress, and then it would need 3/4 (38) of the States to ratify it. Never will happen. Your chances of winning the powerball is better.

  2. This is not correct. We did not ask to ban handguns at the Melbourne CRC meeting. We asked to ban semi automatic assault weapons and large capacity feeding devices. Thank you former state Sen. Chris Smith.

  3. My rights as a veteran are not yours to vote away!! Too many of my brothers and sisters paid for these rights with their blood in Iraq and Afghanistan! Stop trying to circumvent the constitution through incremental legislation!

  4. The 2nd Amendment only recognizes our God given right, it does not grant anything. That is why the “Shall not be infringed” part is there! If this is the things you want to waste your time on so be it. But it won’t pass.

    Better to work on real problems like suicides, both teen and veteran, or teenage drinking /texting while driving, or even bullying if you want to save lives!

  5. No “assault” weapons are legally sold. They are by definition a military grade weapon for use in combat. The term has been used for years by the left to instill or increase the level of fear of the uneducated or uninitiated.

  6. I think you must pass an IQ test before you can exercise the 1st amendment. Then we must amend the 4th and 5th as well. Once implemented, I would support amending the 2nd.

  7. Absolutely disgusting. No one asked me if I wanted my rights restricted. The answer is no. I don’t want my rights infringed upon no different than anyones.

    Do something useful like dealing with the rampant narcotic prescription drug issue in this state and country instead of restricting our rights.

    4.4% of the population of the world lives in the US. Yet that 4.4% takes more narcotic prescription drugs than rest of the worlds population COMBINED.

    330ish million people take more PRESCRIBED drugs than 7.3 BILLION people combined.

  8. Anyone even considering such crap should just consider leaving politics or better yet leave Florida.

  9. States cannot override the US Constitution. It would be in violation of the Supremacy Clause, the 2nd Amendment and the 10th Amendment. The Bill of Rights was written to protected enumerated rights from abuse by not only the federal government, but states and local governments also. Not to mention the reason for the ratification process to pass an amendment. There’s a reason why the bar for ratification is set higher than any other process with regards to law and the Constitution. It’s because by ratifying an amendment, the State’s are agreeing to abide by the provisions set forth in the amendment. Nowhere in the text of the 2nd Amendment dies it authorize ANY state rights. It also violates the Supreme Court ruling in McDonald vs Chicago.

  10. Stop blaming objects. stop trying to take away civil rights! The Sheriff needs to be removed for one, members of the school board and cities that put the non-reporting crimes into action to lower crime rates and receive money also need to be held accountable. This is nothing more than a political power grab. Blaming innocent people over the actions of a madman that did many things he could have been arrested for and nothing was done. Using children that have been lied to try and force an agenda. It is terrible that some in American government and those in Florida want to act just like the redcoats!

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