On June 10th, Ban Assault Weapons Now! (BAWN) – a bipartisan organization led by survivors of mass shootings in Orlando and Parkland – held a press conference outside the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office announcing that they have obtained 103,000 signed petitions. That is enough to trigger a mandatory Florida Supreme Court review of the proposed ballot language.
The League was in attendance and represented by President Patricia Brigham. “Bullets do not care what color or gender you are,” said Brigham. “They do not care if you are a Democrat, Republican, or NPA. Gun violence affects everyone. Multiple polls have shown that Floridians want a ban on assault weapons. We applaud Gail’s bipartisan coalition. We must all work together to make Florida safer from gun violence.”
“This is a huge milestone,” said Gail Schwartz, aunt of Parkland victim Alex Schachter and chair of BAWN. “Hundreds of thousands of Floridians across the state are getting behind this effort to place a ban on the ballot, because they know that this isn’t a partisan issue — this is an issue of public safety.”
“We have a gun Autobahn right now,” said Christine Leinonen, whose son Drew was killed at Pulse. “The Second Amendment says guns should be well regulated. And we know that by banning assault weapons, that’s not going to solve every gun problem in America, but it’s a piece of the puzzle,” she said.
Christene was joined by Mayra Alvear, whose daughter Amanda was also killed in 2016 at Pulse in Orlando, and Ricardo Negron-Almodovar, a survivor of Pulse. At the time, the mass shooting at Pulse was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
There is still a lot of work to do. BAWN needs an additional 600,000+ signatures statewide to reach the required 766,200 signatures by February 1, 2020. Citizen initiatives also have new hurdles brought on by a new law (HB 5) signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis just last week.