What to Know
- Parkland families and survivors seek to ban assault-style firearms in Florida through a constitutional amendment.
- The activists seek signatures for a petition, which is necessary in the Florida constitutional amendment process.
- If 60 percent of voters approve the proposed amendment, assault-style weapons would be banned in Florida.
Nearly one year after the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland family members and victims gathered with gun control activists to launch an effort to ban assault-style weapons in Florida.
The gun safety reform group "Do Something Florida!" gathered on Monday near the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office to formally begin an effort to place a constitutional amendment in Florida's 2020 election ballot to ban the firearms.
The group, along with the "Americans for Gun Safety Now" organization, held a press conference after delivering initial petitions to the elections office. They urged volunteers to gather signatures from voters in the coming months to ultimately rid "the state of military-grade weapons to protect Florida families and children from senseless acts of gun violence."
Those who attended include Parkland survivor David Hogg; Debbi Hixon, who is the widow of Parkland victim Chris Hixon; and Gail Schwartz, who is the aunt of Parkland victim Alex Schachter.
"One year after our beautiful children and loved ones were killed in Parkland, we are turning our grief into action. This is not about taking away anyone’s rights, it’s about saving lives," Schwartz, who chairs Do Something Florida!, said at the press conference. "We ask our fellow Floridians to join us in helping to send a message that we will no longer sit idly by while our precious children and fellow Floridians succumb to weapons meant for war zones. It is time for Florida to do something."
Seventeen people were fatally shot on Feb. 14, 2018, by a gunman who used an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle.
Broward County officials, including suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, have been heavily criticized and accused of not doing enough to prevent the tragedy.
Officials were previously warned about the gunman's possibly dangerous behavior. Months before the shooting, one caller suggested to BSO that the gunman was a "school shooter in the making."
Since the tragedy, many Parkland families and survivors have been vocal activists to curb gun violence.
"Banning military-grade weapons, like the one which claimed seventeen of my classmates and friends, would be a great step towards curbing our epidemic of mass shootings," Hogg said Monday. "These types of bans have already been implemented in eight other states and in D.C. It's time for Florida to do something and lead the way for the rest of our nation."
The effort requires some 776,000 signed petitions by Feb. 1, 2020, to put it on the Florida ballot according to organizers.