Carlos Smith, Gary Farmer trying again with assault weapons ban bills

Assault Weapon
"We owe it to the victims and families of MSD, of Pulse," Smith said.

Orlando’s Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Fort Lauderdale’s Democratic state Sen. Gary Farmer are trying again with bills to ban the possession or sales of assault weapons.

Smith filed his bill late Tuesday and Farmer is planning on filing a companion bill,  to ban the civilian purchase or possession of military-style assault weapons and large capacity magazines.

House Bill 455 calls not just for a ban on future sales, but for the relinquishment of currently owned assault weapons, which the bill explicitly defines as any of dozens of specifically listed makes and models, or similar weapons the bill contends are “selective-fire firearm capable of fully automatic, semiautomatic or burst fire at the option of the user.”

The bill makes possession after July 1, 2020, a third-degree felony, punishable by a year in prison.

Similar bills were filed in each of the past two Florida Legislature Sessions, first as a response to the 2016 mass murder at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, and then for that and the 2018 mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Orlando’s Democratic state Sen. Linda Stewart filed the previous Senate versions, with Farmer as co-introducer. The bills went nowhere.

The issue splits pretty evenly along partisan lines with Republicans holding fast to the argument that guns are protected by the federal Second Amendment, meaning the Democrats’ bills likely have no more chance this year of being heard anywhere.

Passions run high on both sides, as evidenced by the social media reaction Orlando Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani encountered last weekend when she posted a Facebook item indicating her support for a ban, receiving more than 1,300 comments, the vast majority in opposition, and a large number expressing outrage toward her.

Smith and Farmer both vowed to keep trying.

“Gun violence prevention is an essential part of any comprehensive plan to address school safety as well as the safety of the general public. We owe it to the victims and families of MSD, of Pulse and of everyday gun violence to keep assault weapons off our streets and to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. I will continue fighting this fight for as long as it takes,” Smith stated in a news release issued by his office Tuesday.

That news release also included a statement from Farmer: “The single common denominator for many of these senseless mass shootings is the use of these weapons of war. It is our obligation to pass this legislation to ensure the safety and security of our children in our homes and communities.”

Scott Powers

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 [email protected]


5 comments

  • Denny Peterson

    January 23, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Why the misleading picture?
    The weapon in that photo is a select fire machinegun,
    (note the S-E-F selector switch), and it has a short barrel.
    It is not the type of rifle this proposed law is targeting.
    THAT rifle is very highly regulated, under the NFA laws.

    In fact…It is a G36…Which was not in existence before the 1968 machinegun ban, so I’m not sure there is even a civilian transferable G36 available in the U.S.

    OR…It may be an Airsoft toy.

  • Nick

    January 23, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    Please stop saying assault weapons…assault weapons have been baned since the 50’s…those “scary military guns” your refering to are no different than any other hunting rifle virtually all guns are semi automatic and on top of that most shootings are done with handguns look at the facts and statistics people, banning guns wont solve the problem, theres so much wrong with this …

  • Jim

    January 23, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    On the evening of 14 July 2016, a 19-tonne cargo truck was deliberately driven into crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, resulting in the deaths of 86 people and the injury of 458 others. The driver was Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian resident of France. Wikipedia

  • Tom

    January 23, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    “Orlando Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani encountered last weekend when she posted a Facebook item indicating her support for a ban, receiving more than 1,300 comments, the vast majority in opposition, and a large number expressing outrage toward her.”

    NOTE: VAST MAJORITY IN OPPOSITION…

    Then it goes on to say “Smith and Farmer both vowed to keep trying.”

    NOTE: They want your guns, they don’t care what the majority wants THEY want your guns and won’t give up until the Constitution is in a burn pit someplace… Period dot com.

  • Helen

    January 24, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    The single common denominator for ALL mass shootings is the mental health of the shooter. Forget about “assault weapons bans” which as pointed out above is a non-issue; let’s do something about the mental health care non-system in this country and the deleterious effect the HIPAA laws have had on it.

Comments are closed.


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