ORLANDO, Fla. – Following a weekend of gun violence carried out in two mass shootings in two different states in the U.S., Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said her decision to push for the disqualification of a proposed ballot measure seeking to ban assault weapons remains the same.
More than 30 people were killed and dozens more were injured in separate attacks in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend, prompting yet another discussion about gun laws in America.
On Friday, Moody's office sent a letter to the Supreme Court, calling the proposed constitutional amendment backers are pushing to have on the 2020 ballot "misleading" and suggested the court should move to keep the matter from voters.
Moody argued that the proposal goes far beyond banning so-called assault weapons and could also ban the possession of all semi-automatic long guns.
Following the attacks over the weekend, a reporter asked Moody during a press conference in Jacksonville Monday if her stance on the ballot measure had changed after seeing more acts of violence carried out using weapons of mass destruction.
“Shouldn’t the people of Florida have the right to vote against these assault weapons, these automatic, semi-automatic weapons of mass destruction?" the reporter asked.
Moody called the events tragic and said something must be done, but that her position on the proposed language of the amendment had not changed.
“There can’t be anyone in this country that wasn’t horrified and shocked and saddened by the events that took place this weekend. I agree that we must get better at identifying and working together as law enforcement to protect Floridians up against those that are mentally deranged that will seek to do us harm," Moody said. "As it related to the proposed constitutional amendment that my office filed with the courts last week, it’s important to remember that I am obligated to pay attention to wording as the attorney general, and make sure that when we do have proposed amendment, regardless of my own personal policy preferences, regardless of my own opinions, to make sure that the way that is going to be communicated on a ballot is clear and not misleading."
Moody said the proposed amendment would ban the weapons used in the attacks over the weekend, but would also ban others, and the language used in the proposed amendment does not clearly communicate that.
"My job as the attorney general is to pay attention to the words that are used in this ballot language and make sure that it does not hide the ball or mislead voters. This particular amendment would mislead voters into thinking they were banning a specific type of firearm when in fact, they were banning virtually every long gun, including those that have been passed down from generation to generation in Florida," Moody said.
The attorney general said she appreciates the fact that people are asking questions about the wording of the proposed amendment, noting the importance of the judicial review process.
"People are asking questions and they should. That’s why we have this process. That’s why we have a process of judicial review, to see if this is language that hides the ball or misleads," Moody said. "I invite these questions because I think this is good, as we determine whether or not this should be something that should be on the ballot."
Moody said that the process must be carried out with personal opinions set aside, even when tragedies shed more light on specific issues.
"This has to be done with intellectual honestly, regardless of any personal opinions as to policy. Many times I might receive a proposal for a ballot amendment and I might not think it’s the best policy, but if it’s clear, that’s not what my function is," Moody said. "And so it’s important to remember as we move through the next weeks and we reflect on the horribly tragic events that have taken place this weekend, we have to remain focused on the wording that is proposed for this specific amendment."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.