TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The assault weapons ban would be a business bust. That’s the message opponents gave state economists on Thursday during a meeting to determine the financial impact of the constitutional amendment, if approved by Florida voters.
Gun sellers are worried they’d have to close. The ban may prompt the 150-plus gun makers to move out of the state. Hunters are worried about the impact on tourism.
“Billions," Marion Hammer said, a well-known gun lobbyist in the state. "It’s going to be devastating if it gets on the ballot and passes.”
Gun advocates have spent weeks trying to get economists to see things their way. The group's findings would be included in what voters read on the ballot.
For Charlie Strickland, the CEO and co-owner of Talon Range in Tallahassee, it's been an emotional fight. He said his business, which sells many of the guns potentially being outlawed by the proposal, may have to shut down if the rule goes into effect.
"Yes, we’re angry," he said. "Somebody is trying to take what’s ours.”
Ban supporters have been trying to sway the economists as well. They foresee a safer future and think passing the amendment could save hundreds of millions in hospital costs following a mass shooting.
“Our kids have a true fear when they go to school," Shannon Guse said, a member of Moms Demand Action. "I worry about that.”
It’s been a challenge for economists to come up with a clear estimation due to the proposal’s broadly written language. Critics believe it would virtually ban all semi-auto rifles and shotguns because they’re capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once.
“Everybody is wrestling with what does 'capable' mean, in this context,” Amy Baker said, chair of the group for Economic & Demographic Research.
Baker said economists should have a final estimation in September. For now, they seem to be leaning toward a middle-ground definition— affecting up to 71 percent of rifle sales and around 50 percent of shotguns.
The proposal still faces hurdles to get on the ballot. It’s well short of the signatures needed and has to pass legal review by the state Supreme Court.
Attorney General Ashley Moody is challenging the amendment proposal. She believes its language is misleading and that voters won’t realize what they’re supporting.