1. Opinion

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody shows her true colors on guns

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody answers reporters questions during the 2019 legislative session. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody answers reporters questions during the 2019 legislative session. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Published Aug. 6

So State Attorney General Ashley Moody is taking a stand against letting Floridians decide if they want to ban assault weapons.

Moody officially did this two days before the mass shooting at a California food festival by a gunman who legally bought his assault weapon in another state. And she is sticking to her guns, so to speak, even after last weekend's separate and horrifying massacres at a busy Walmart in El Paso and an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio that left more than 30 dead at the hands of mad men armed with military-style assault rifles.

Okay, so maybe the sheer number of these tragedies makes a person a little numb to the grim absurdity of her timing.

Moody is recommending that the Florida Supreme Court reject a proposed constitutional amendment to ban the sale of assault weapons. Then she doubled-down, calling the amendment "deceitful and misleading" and saying it would ban the sale of antique rifles like one her grandfather had decades ago. She said it would ban virtually every self-loading long gun, "including those that in no shape of the imagination would one think would be described as an assault weapon."

In fact, the amendment, which supporters hope to get on the 2020 ballot and which does not apply to handguns, would prohibit the sale of "semiautomatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once, either in fixed or detachable magazine." People who own these already would have to register them.

And, seriously. Does anyone including the attorney general believe this effort — led by a woman whose nephew was murdered in a mass shooting at his high school — is about anything more than keeping deadly weapons out of the hands of those intent on carnage? Or doing something to stop this insanity?

Ben Pollara, a political consultant working with Ban Assault Weapons NOW said this: "If someone wants to give their 9- or 10-year-old grandkid a semiautomatic rifle capable of taking a high-capacity magazine, they will be out of luck. But unless grandpa needs to unload ten bullets into a deer when he's out hunting, his 60-year-old rifle is probably totally legal under this amendment."

But what a handy catchphrase to titillate the National Rifle Association: Now they're coming for Grandpa's guns!

Moody also plans to fight to keep ridiculous penalties — thousands in fines and removal from office — for local officials who dare pass gun rules in their communities, like banning them from government buildings. She would have opposed raising the gun purchase age to 21.

Why am I surprised? Maybe because at 31, Moody became a Hillsborough judge — the youngest in Florida, to the consternation of some. But then she established a reputation as hardworking and thoughtful. She's a Republican with conservative stances, but she has said she hopes Floridians will see her decisions are based on the law, not politics.

And also not — you would hope — based on toeing the party line on a topic with which citizens have finally had enough.

Even as the latest dead are buried, you did not hear Moody suggest how to fix that amendment language to her lawyerly satisfaction for real change. Disappointing doesn't begin to cover it.

Contact Sue Carlton at


  1. A U.S. Army carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, of Tarrant, Texas, who according to the Department of Defense died in Afghanistan, during a casualty return ceremony, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Dover Air Force Base, Del. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) [EVAN VUCCI  |  AP]
    The U.S. government painted a false picture to the American public for years.
  2. President Donald Trump listens to a question during a meeting with Paraguay's President Mario Abdo Benitez in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Washington. [EVAN VUCCI  |  AP]
    Here’s what readers had to say in Monday’s letters to the editor.
  3. A medic with the United States Army's Task Force Shadow "Dust Off," Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment leads Marines as they carry an Afghan civilian wounded by insurgent gunfire on a stretcher to a waiting medevac helicopter in southern Helmand Province, Afghanistan in Jan. 2011. [KEVIN FRAYER  |  ASSOCIATED PRESS]
    Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
  4. A package of Pampers Cruisers diapers. [JENNIFER KERR  |  AP]
    Here’s what readers had to say in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
  5. Jeremy Sutliff drags a freshly cut hop plant over to the harvesting machine at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    Researchers are trying to make a variety of hops suitable to Florida’s climate.
  6. This photo provided by Time magazine shows Greta Thunberg, who has been named Time’s youngest “person of the year” on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.   The media franchise said Wednesday on its website that Thunberg is being honored for work that transcends backgrounds and borders.  (Time via AP) [AP]
    Here’s what readers had to say in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
  7. A look at major newspapers' editorials on impeachment [Tampa Bay Times]
    A round-up of excerpts of editorials from across America.
  8. Election day at the Coliseum for St. Petersburg municipal elections. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Florida should make it easier, not harder, for voters in 2020, writes a new Florida State graduate.
  9. The manuscript of Florida's constitution from 1885. The current version was revised and ratified in 1968. [Florida Memory]
    The governor wants to give a civics test to high school students. He should aim higher and require one of state lawmakers.
  10. President Donald Trump speaks Thursday during the White House Summit on Child Care and Paid Leave in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) [EVAN VUCCI  |  AP]
    The House has enough reason to justify the impeachment of President Donald Trump.