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Assault Weapons Ban Could Cost Florida $26.9 Million in Lost Revenue

September 6, 2019 - 6:00am
Beth Dumond and Amy Baker
Beth Dumond and Amy Baker

If Floridians approve a constitutional amendment next year to block possession of assault weapons, a panel of economists on Thursday estimated the state budget could take a $26.9 million hit in lost revenue.

But the head of the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research said the amount would likely be smaller because revenue lost in taxes from gun sales would be balanced out with other purchases that can be taxed.

“More than half of the direct sales-tax loss would be offset by redirected spending,” Amy Baker, the office’s coordinator and a lead state economist, told panel members as they tried to figure out the financial impact of the proposed amendment, which backers hope to put on the November 2020 ballot.

The ballot proposal, spearheaded by the political committee Ban Assault Weapons NOW, would prohibit possession of “semi-automatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once, either in a fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition-feeding device.” 

It includes an exception for people who own the guns at the time the measure would take effect. Those people would be able to keep assault weapons if they register the guns with the state.

Baker estimated the loss of revenue from the measure would have a “minimal” impact on the state’s roughly $90 billion budget.

“It’s a very small composition of the budget,” she said.

To determine the economic impact of the proposed amendment, economists are looking at a number of variables, including a loss in sales taxes from assault-type weapons, ammunition and gun accessories, as well as impacts on government contracts and tourism.

During the panel’s meeting Thursday, supporters of the proposed ballot measure said savings associated with fewer mass shootings should also be taken into consideration.

Beth Dumond, a Tallahassee-based volunteer with Moms Demand Action, said taking away assault weapons from the equation in mass shootings could save taxpayers money because of reduced medical costs, police response and demand for mental health services.

“The medical expenses associated with (assault weapons) are higher, there is just no getting around it,” Dumond said. “You are able to kill more people and you are able to injure more people.”

Dumond cited the work of Ted Miller, a health economist with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. Miller has studied the costs of firearms injuries for more than two decades, according to the university’s website.

In 2016, Miller told PBS he estimated the costs of the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub to be about $385 million, when considering the costs of victims’ medical care, police response and the dollar value of the lives lost.

Baker said the panel of state economists was made aware of the data set and tried to get a study with Florida-specific information. She said the panel was told there was no state-specific data at the time.

The panel said it was also “indeterminate” to know the cost of the proposed constitutional amendment to law enforcement, corrections and courts. While costs associated with court cases could decline because of fewer assault weapons, the measure also would create a third-degree felony charge for people who violate the ban.

“We don’t know how that would net against each other, so we don’t even have a direction on that one,” Baker said.


who cares about lost revenue if it would save lives. no one needs an assault weapon. all you 2nd amendment people are ridiculous. what is more important, lives or guns?


First, get your facts correct. Assault rifles heavily regulated regulated and very expensive. (Prices start at about $5000.) Second, 'assault weapons' was a term created to cause confusion between semiautomatic rifles and true military assault rifles capable of fully automatic fire. Semi automatic firearms, including AR 15 and civilian AK-style firearms, fire one shot per pull of the trigger. Fully automatic firearms continue to fire as long as they have ammunition when the trigger is pulled. Most people have never seen, let alone fired, a fully automatic firearm. Semi automatics, including the terrible AR 15, are not military weapons. The AR 15 was developed into a fully automatic military weapon, the M-16, after the civilian version was in use. AR stands for Armelite rifle, for the company that originally made it. The AR 15 is the most popular rifle in the United States, with about 15 million in civilian hands. The media has made it the most popular rifle for mass shootings.

This ballot initiative appears to have little support across the state. It took BAWN over a year to gather a little over 100 thousand VERIFIED signatures. They have until early next year to get an additional 600 thousand VERIFIED signatures. Perhaps people are beginning to understand that more homicides are caused by hands and blunt objects than rifles of any kind. Even in the unlikely event it gets on the ballot and passes, it not clear how many current owners would register. The state of New Jersey banned high capacity magazines and received zero compliance. I'm thinking people get squeamish when one of the major political parties that endorses anti semitism and partial birth abortions wants you disarmed.

It wouldnt matter of there was zero revenue loss. The infringement on oir natural rights is unacceptable. Swimming pools kill the equivalent of 5 pre k classes yearly. Where is the ban on these? Where is the restriction to beach access for anyone under 21? No where of course. This ballot initiative is fueled by people who immediately exploited families before they had time to grieve. These are intellectually dishonest control freaks who represent the worst in people. This is why we should never allow direct democracy initiatives in Florida.

An absurd number! Totally made-up! Unprovable! "News Service of Florida" must be an NRA affiliate!

For once common sense prevails, an excellent reduction in "expected revenue".

You "anti-gun NUTS" in Florida are, indeed "bat-poo crazy", and you will ultimately EMPTY Florida of resident CITIZENS and serious economic value and investment in ALL commodities, and turn it into just one more dying State like Calif & New York. REMEMBER: "cutsy T-shirts" do NOT "make a case" for ANY issue (other than to brand the wearer as mendaciously uninformed, and forcefully arrogant; just like ANTIFA thugs.

Many of us in Florida have military backgrounds. We know what these terrible military style weapons can do. Got a real name, "Anonymous"?

Robert, you are right! No one is taking guns away from anyone. You want a handgun or a hunting rifle then fine buy it. However, if want a weapon of war then sorry you are out of luck! Florida has been a safe haven for the gun makers and lobbyists. According to ATF stats in 2019 Florida ranks only second to Texas in the number of guns owned with just over 430,000. Florida has no laws regulating assault weapons. So, yes Florida will lose some money in this deal - but I can handle that loss of assault riffle sales. We will just sell more sunblock.

My 2 nd amendment right still stands! Guns don’t kill people, people kill people! Lefties want fascism, elitist win and the average person losses! Wake up!!!

My rifle self identifies as a "self-protection rifle" therefore cannot be referred to as an "assault rifle."

The comment in the article saying that the ban would reduce mass shootings is unfounded. Data shows, that during the Clinton era assualt weapons and high capacity magazine ban, there was actually a slight increase of mass shootings during the 10 years it was in force than the 10 years prior. Also, in the 10 years after the ban expired, the percentage of those killed by all rifles (not just assault rifles and includes shotguns) actually decreased percentage wise. Also, of all the mass shootings in the last 5 years, there is only one that the the same amount of damage, if not more damage, could have been done by pistols and shotguns. That one instance is there Las Vegas shooting, due to the distances involved. There's also a video by an Indiana sheriff that shows that magazine capacity has very little effect.

Florida's smart enough to know guns dont kill people. People kill people. Crazy [ mentally ill if you are extra "word" sensitive ] people engage in mass killings. Leftists need all guns taken away from the public to implement their tin foil hat dangerous and nonsenseical agenda. No leftist "camel noses" will be allowed under the sacred tent of the Second Amendment. If you crazy leftists were not...well...crazy you would put your time and money into improving the mental health of our great Nation. But alas you dweebs are bat shizz crazy.

Guns kill people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who in their right minds thinks otherwise? Of course, mental illness is a factor but the use of an assault weapon must be stopped. They are not covered by the 2nd Amendment - four conservative judges have ruled they aren't in high profile cases. Look, I own both a handgun and a hunting rifle, I served in the US Army and fought in the first Gulf War in Iraq and I see no reason to EVER own a semi-automatic weapon. At last count over 200 police chiefs from Florida to Washington state, along with the FBI and the ATF have all lobbied hard to get these guns banned. So this is hardly a left only is an issue of common sense.

More ppl are killed with blunt objects that a scary-looking rifle. Btw, the military has NEVER used an AR-15 in battle, ever.

Opioids don't kill people. People kill people. (And, "leftists" are the available opposition to the fascist "rightists" now running this state and the federal government! I'll take the "leftists" any day over the rightwing fascists!)

OK Jay & Anon: Pretend for a few minutes you are both of sound mind and go back and read your leftist blathering talking points. See? You are both out of your minds and so ashamed of yourselves. OK you can both snap out of it and go back to work in your Russian Troll Farm!!!

Perfect response! I’m beginning to feel disgust for the hypocrites left! Let’s start with Buttigieg, warren and Biden’! Add AOC! Dumb lefties!

Saving lives is priceless and so $27 - ish million dollars not going to gun makers is s a very good thing. That money will be made up in other ways.

A dilemma for the GOP, as corporations (its' main reason for being) like Walmart and Walgreens tell folks not to open carry weapons in their stores come up against the 2nd Amendment "strict constructionist" gang who think they are guaranteed the right to carry assault rifles into the grocery store.

I would never open carry but I go EVERYWHERE with my concealed weapon. Walmart, Walgreens, church, the mall, Publix, EVERYWHERE. We are EVERYWHERE.

I know my guns keep me from leftist fascism!!!!

The gun nuts have a mental disease.

It called the 2d Amendment, don't like it? Then change it. Good luck with that.

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