Tallahassee, Fla. – June 4, 2020 – GrayRobinson, P.A. Tallahassee Attorneys Andy Bardos, Ashley Hoffman Lukis, George Levesque, and Jason Unger secured a 4-1 Florida Supreme Court victory for their client, the National Rifle Association (NRA), on June 4, 2020.
The Court considered a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have banned most semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. It concluded that the amendment’s ballot summary was misleading.
“We are pleased the Florida Supreme Court agreed with our client’s position that the ballot summary was misleading and should not be presented to the voters. Voters are entitled to ballot summaries that are accurate and not misleading,” said Bardos.
The Attorney General petitioned the Court to review the proposed amendment, titled “Prohibits possession of defined assault weapons,” and to determine whether the amendment meets two legal requirements: (1) whether it contains only a single subject; and (2) whether its ballot summary is accurate.
The ballot summary stated that all existing semi-automatic rifles and shotguns would be exempt from the ban. In fact, the proposed amendment would have permitted only the person who currently owns the firearm to continue to possess it. It would not have allowed that firearm to be transferred to any other person.
The GrayRobinson team submitted two briefs on behalf of the NRA. The briefs argued the ballot summary proposed would mislead voters regarding the exemption. The ballot summary stated that the proposed amendment “exempts . . . assault weapons lawfully possessed prior to this provision’s effective date.” It violated section 101.161(1), Florida Statutes, which ensures that ballot summaries “provide fair notice of the content of the proposed amendment” so that voters, as the Court explained, “will not be misled as to [the proposed amendment’s] purpose, and can cast an intelligent and informed ballot.”
The Court concluded that the proposed amendment should not go before the voters in its current form because the ballot summary failed to comply with section 101.161(1) and was affirmatively misleading.
To view the full order, please click here.
Read press coverage below:
"Florida Supreme Court Rules Against Assault Weapons Ban Amendment," The Center Square
"Florida Supreme Court Nixes Effort To Ban Assault Weapons," WUSF Public Media