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Broward County might ask voters whether to ban assault weapons. Should voters have that right?

March 19, 2018

Sun Sentinel,

Dan Sweeney,

March 16, 2018-

Should Broward voters get a chance to enact measures that ban assault rifles and high-capacity magazines in the county?” That’s how Sun Sentinel reporter Larry Barszewski started his story on a proposal that will be taken up today by the Broward Charter Review Commission, which is considering multiple amendments to the county charter. But there’s a lot more to the question than first appears.

First, there’s the touchy issue of gun control — should an assault weapons ban be enacted in any case? Second, there’s the fact that it’s a local law — even if such a ban should be enacted, can it be effective if it only covers one county? And finally, there’s the issue of state preemption. State law bans local governments from enacting gun control laws. Elected officials that make such laws can face fines of up to $5,000 and removal from office. In this case, the commission is an appointed body, and it’s voters that would make the decision, not elected politicians. But if voters approved an assault weapons ban, it’d still probably run afoul of state law.

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