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Florida Keep Guns Away From Felons Initiative (2008)

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Keep guns away from felons did not appear on the November 4, 2008 statewide ballot in Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure would have protected law abiding gun owners’ rights. Additionally, it would have established terms for gun sales, compiled a list of felons legally possessing firearms, required registration, proscribed safety measures and clarified existing law.[1]

Current gun law

Convicted felons cannot get gun licenses under state and federal law. However, in Florida, the law allows people charged with felonies to obtain licenses to carry guns three years after completing their sentences so long as a judge "withholds adjudication." This meant that a felon could serve probation, complete community service, obtain counseling, pay fines or fulfill other requirements and walk away with a clean record. This type of break often was given to first- or second-time offenders in instances in which the state's case is weak, and a plea deal appears to be the best option for defendants without the money to mount a strong defense.

Support

Safer Florida sponsored the initiative.

The group described itself in the following mission:

Safer Florida is a political action committee dedicated to amending the Florida Constitution to make our gun laws more stringent and our streets safer. Our organization respects the rights of law-abiding gun owners, but seeks to reform the Florida gun laws to keep thugs away from guns; an individual’s right to carry a firearm is constitutionally protected and that right deserves to be respected. However, a felon’s right to carry a firearm is just plain outlandish. Since the government has not taken actions to resolve Florida’s troubling gun laws, concerned citizens must step up and voice their outrage. It is our mission to raise awareness about this issue and petition to the state to enact legislation to fix the problem.[2]

The South Florida Sun Sentinel also wrote strong editorials endorsing gun control in the state. The newspaper did an investigation on gun licenses and reported that gun licenses were easily obtained by irresponsible people.[3]

Opposition

The National Rifle Association, the original writers of the concealed weapon law, supported open guns law and stricter courts.[4]

Status

The initiative was approved for circulation by the Florida Secretary of State, however no signatures had been validated and the measure did not make the ballot.

See also

References