Florida House Shocks Nation by Lowering Age Limit for Rifle Purchases!

Florida House Shocks Nation by Lowering Age Limit for Rifle Purchases!

On Friday, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill that would lower the minimum age to buy firearms and other “long” guns from 21 to 18. With this vote, a big change that was made after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland would be thrown out.

After Nikolas Cruz killed 17 students and teachers and hurt 17 others with a semi-automatic weapon when he was 19 years old, lawmakers made this change to gun laws as part of a broad school safety plan in 2018. Under federal law, people younger than 21 could not buy weapons before.

During Friday’s discussion of the plan to lower the age, House bill author Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, said that the move “corrects the wrong we did in 2018.” Payne said that HB 1543 would not change other parts of the law from 2018 that dealt with mental health and school safety.

But Democrats fought hard against removing the age limit, saying that it would help the state avoid another mass shooting like the one in Broward County.

Christine Hunschofsky, a Democrat who was the mayor of Parkland at the time of the shooting, asked her fellow state representatives to keep the age limit. She said that the 2018 law was the “gold standard” for school safety across the country.

“With only a week left in the 2023 parliamentary session, the bill’s future is not clear. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, a Republican from Naples, has said she doesn’t like the idea. “I’ll see it when it comes over,” Passidomo told media before the House voted 69-36 on Friday.

Supporters of the bill have said, among other things, that the rule that people under 21 can’t buy long guns is against their civil rights. In a state that has been expanding gun rights for decades, the choice made by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2018 was very unusual.

The National Rifle Association went to federal court right away to fight the rule, saying that it went against the Second Amendment.

In 2021, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker supported the law’s right to be on the books. Walker said that he was just following the law, but he also said that the case was “right in the middle of a constitutional no man’s land.”

The NRA went to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to make their case. In March, the rule was confirmed by a group of three judges from the appeals court in Atlanta. The NRA has asked for the whole court to look at the decision again.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has said she doesn’t like the idea, so it’s not clear if the Senate will pass the bill.

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