The Florida House on Friday passed a measure that would lower the minimum age from 21 to 18 to buy rifles and other “long” guns, voting to scrap a high-profile change passed after a 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Lawmakers included the gun restriction in a sweeping 2018 school-safety package after Nikolas Cruz, then 19, used a semi-automatic rifle to kill 17 students and faculty members and injure 17 others. Federal law already barred people under 21 from buying handguns. During debate on the plan to lower the age on Friday, House bill sponsor Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, said the measure “corrects the wrong we did in 2018.”
Payne argued that the bill (HB 1543) would leave intact other provisions of the 2018 law that addressed mental health and school safety. “You see the gun as the problem,” Payne said. “I see the interventions and the policies as the answer.” But Democrats fiercely opposed lifting the age restriction, attributing it to helping the state avoid a repeat of the mass shooting in Broward County.
State Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, a Democrat who was the mayor of Parkland at the time of the shooting, pleaded with her colleagues to keep the age restriction in place. She called the 2018 law a national “gold standard” for school safety. “This law has stood the test of time because we have not had another school shooting in the state of Florida, and I hope to God we never do so that children will no longer hide, hit the ground, when a balloon pops. … We are going down the wrong path here,” she said.
With a week remaining in the 2023 legislative session, the measure faces an uncertain future. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, has expressed opposition to the proposal. “I’ll see it when it comes over,” Passidomo told reporters prior to the House’s 69-36 vote Friday.
Supporters of the bill have argued, in part, that the prohibition on people under 21 buying long guns violates the constitutional rights of young adults. The Republican-controlled Legislature’s 2018 decision was highly unusual in a state that had expanded gun rights over decades. The National Rifle Association immediately filed a challenge in federal court, arguing that the law violated the Second Amendment.
Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in 2021 upheld the constitutionality of the law. Walker said he was following legal precedent, though he also described the case as falling “squarely in the middle of a constitutional no man’s land.” The NRA appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based appeals court in March upheld the law. The NRA has asked the full court to reconsider the ruling.
–News Service of Florida
I agree with this. If elementary school kids are old and mature enough to decide on a sex change, then why can’t an 18 year old buy this? Liberals don’t like when things don’t go their way. Stay tuned for a temper tantrum.
Nancy N. says
And yet I bet you never question the maturity or judgement of a young child who proclaims themselves to be the gender of the body they were born in…if a kid can be so sure of their gender then, why not when it doesn’t match their body?
I’ll make you a deal. You can have your assault rifles for 18 year olds….if buyers have to first go through the kind of extensive counseling and long waits and such that people go through before beginning to transition gender.
Also, I’d love to hear your justification for why it should be legal for an 18 year old to buy an assault weapon but not a beer….
But, certain books are the things they can’t choose in school. Yup, makes sense.
Elementary school kids do not decide on sex change. That is a lie. It is also a false equivalency.
As to why an 18 year old should be able to buy a semi-automatic rifle that accepts detachable magazines, there is no reason that they should. I would expand that restriction to all persons who are not members of the military or police. Center fire weapons owned by the unregulated Militia, should have non-detachable magazines, of no more than 6 cartridges, which can only be reloaded one cartridge at a time.
Florida Voter says
1) Elementary school kids aren’t old and mature enough to decide on a sex change; their parents in consultation with doctors are, but I guess that’s not within “parental rights.”
2) Also, I’ve never heard of a sex change that is specifically designed to kill lots of people. Sure, some rifles and other “long guns” are designed to kill animals other than humans, but many semiautomatic rifles only have one goal in their design: kill all the humans.
Someone under 21 isn’t able to drink a glass of beer, but they can shoot 100 rounds per minute?
How many sex changes have ever killed a classroom of children?
Making a decision about yourself is a LOT different from being given the ability to be armed and kill others (animals or humans – hard to tell anymore).
Billy C. says
You didn’t give your comment much thought did you? So energized by your “anti-liberalism” you wrote a nonsensical comparison between AR15 accessibility and elementary school kids deciding on a sex change!?! Not that the second is true but, if it were how does it effect you or me? On the other hand an assault weapon in the hands of a teenager could easily determine life or death for other citizens.
You are attempting to use logical reasoning with the illogical and unreasonable.
@ shelly. . . I agree with the other responses to your comment which seems to have been lifted directly from FOX BS with “zero” thought on your part. Won’t you please change channels and save yourself from the “cult” mentality?
The Republicans. People keep voting for them. Will this bill pass probably. If it does my people can expect to be targets for the white people and they will kill and get away with the murder. It would be nice if some Republicans and the NRA get murdered by the bills they pass. I hope and pray to God that some would bemurdered soon, them or their children. Perhaps they will change their thoughts and actions. I know this is raw and harsh, but it hurts when innocent people are killed because of the nra and Republican bills. Innocent children, men, women killed daily by guns that the bills passed by the Repubs, made it possible for people who shouldn’t have guns get them. The Republicans don’t care at least most of them don’t care. They will continue to pass bills that hurt and kill the little people. Most of the bills are passed by mostly white men, always trying to control other people.
Br 549 says
Atwp I agree 100%
I feel the same as you do.
Deborah Coffey says
Absolutely. Florida MUST have more killing!
Dedicated to the Parkland victims!
Bill C says
Sick and twisted MAGA mob can’t get enough of slaughter of innocents. What’s next, witch trials?
The legal age for drinking alcohol was 21 years old, but I guess that too was a law that “…violates the constitutional rights of young adults,” and the legal age was lowered to 18. I was a bartender back then, and what a fiasco that new law was! Lawmakers apparently saw the light and raised the age back to 21.
Clearly, the NRA is much more important, and has more rights than Florida’s children. What a slap in the face of the parents who lost their children is this now way too common event. Marjorie T Green can continue to chase survivors down a street and harass them.
Right to lifers, I’m still waiting to hear from you. I hear nothing so far…
Joe D says
You would THINK the reason for raising the drinking age to 21 back then was a “thought out”
sensible decision….it was based on the LOSS of Federal HIGHWAY funds for those states that didn’t raise the age up to 21….I believe only Louisiana (due to New Orleans tourism) failed to raise its drinking age, and lost Federal highway funds, at the time.
So let’s see: if passed, we will now have 18 year olds in Florida able to buy AUTOMATIC ASSAULT WEAPONS( still trying to figure out why the average person of ANY age needs more than a 10 round automatic pistol bullet clip for self defense …which even Maryland allows), without a permit, without mandatory gun training, and without a background check!?!
MAKES PERFECT SENSE to ME…..OMG!
If my grandchildren lived in Florida, I would have to come out of retirement to HOME School them (and I guess get state funds at $8000 per child taken away from our ALREADY UNDERFUNDED public school system), But that doesn’t protect them from being shot at the grocery store, the playground and sports games, because some adult/child is experiencing unresolved mental health issues!
Yes GUNS don’t shoot people, PEOPLE shoot people, but if that person can only grab a knife, or a limited 10 clip automatic pistol, the body counts would at least POTENTIALLY be lower.
We have truly LOST OUR MINDS!!
“But that doesn’t protect them from being shot at the grocery store, the playground and sports games, because some adult/child is experiencing unresolved mental health issues!”
You forgot to add:
1) their own backyard,
2) their home,
3) their bedrooms while they are sleeping
to the list of dangerous places.
p.s. Just wait till July 01, 2023 …
Perfect Sense: These conversations always remind me of the Raiders of the Lost Ark scene where Indiana Jones is faced with a highly trained swordsman who is flinging his sword in all directions, and Indiana gets bored with it, pulls his pistol and shoots the guy. So true! This foolishness needs to stop. Vote these fools out!
you can’t buy fully automatic weapons without a special permit, but if you are 18 you can join the military and shoot one to your hearts desire. Another strange rule, you can vote, kill and die for your country at 18 because maybe you are mature or maybe not, I sure can’t figure it out
Florida Voter says
Where to start:
Training and Supervision.
1) Most weapons in the military are not fully automatic. An ordinary 18yo doesn’t get one of those. 3-round burst is more typical (or at least it was … yes that’s outdated, but it should be fine based on your user name). Even in the military, you have to be kind of special and/or get special training to get a fully automatic weapon.
2) In the military, you do not get to “shoot one to your hearts desire.” Weapons are supervised, sometimes even locked up. Training is supervised. The supervisor is someone with experience, an officer, NCO, etc.
3) Yes, at 18 you are old enough to kill and/or die for your country, but not all by yourself. Again, an 18yo in the military is most definitely NOT in charge of themselves (unless those in charge die for their country first). Even the military recognizes that at 18, a person is still not mature.
Training and supervision. That’s the whole “well-regulated” part of the second amendment.
I hope this helps you figure it out.
Thanks so much, Florida Voter, for taking the time to explain how the military trains recruits. I would just add that they also supervise the use of those weapons and hold people accountable when they are not stored and used according to their training and command. That is certainly NOT the case in the civilian population!
Regardless of any law change. People over and under the age of 18 will continue to get guns, legally or illegally.
70% of guns used in crimes are stolen from supposedly law-abiding citizens who leave them in their car or loaded in a dresser drawer. Fewer guns = fewer stolen guns = fewer crimes.
Sick . What is happening to Florida? Going down a dark path.
What can they be possibly be thinking?
Just when I think our state representatives cannot propose more reprehensible policies, they do.
Robin: True. Apparently, real issues are boring, and off the wall wackadoo, made up problems get more attention. Rs have no real policies, but they do take up space.
G A says
The wheels have come off the republican party. Vote
Every single republican out. They have become a pox on society
What is there left to say about a state that has such an inept and backwards governor and puppet legislature that they make it even easier for teenagers to get a hold of an AR-15 assault rifle, but at the same time they are banning LGBT after school clubs, cracking down on drag performances, sanctioning Disney over it’s stance on gay rights, and having school districts across the state ban books that were in school libraries because those “radical” and “woke” things are too dangerous for teens to know about. Well, there’s only one thing you can say… its Flori-DUH folks, Flori-DUH. We really ought to be enacting a law in this state to change the spelling of our state’s name so it not only spells like it sounds above, but is more intellectually like it’s brainless (and spineless) leaders…DUH.
Skibum: Most of Florida’s population came from somewhere else.
Bonehead Bobby Payne, and his consorts are just simply insane, while the majority in the Florida legislature are out of touch with reality and the peoples will!
First they do the absolute least they can do as a preventative measure to more massacres. Then this republican stooge has the nerve to introduce legislation to backpedal the weak gun control legislation already in place?
Last time I check massacres are on the rise!
Wake up voters!
Can our Fla govt get anymore stupid. We have a strong police force but a weak justice system where our courts slap hands with weak sentences, now they let kids buy a AK-47, etc. So sick of the NRA and their so called protecting the 2nd amendment. How about Protecting it by protecting the unarmed citizens, the women and children getting shot. Remember the 2024 elections.
Jay Tomm says
If an 18yo is considered an adult by federal law, & can serve in the military & die for this county, there is no reason at 18 they can’t buy a rifle legally. And lets not forget that the crazy teen that started this mess didn’t get a rifle legally. So what was the point of raising the age?
The point is, for this and all other gun-buying restrictions, limiting the legal purchase of guns will limit the number of guns. How many of these mass murders were done by someone who bought legally? Sure, that doesn’t prevent someone from an illegal purchase, but fewer deaths is better!
It is my experience and understanding that the military trains those 18 & 19 year olds BEFORE providing them with a gun. The guns and ammunition are normally kept under lock in an armory. In a similar manner, 18 & 19 year olds who are employed in law enforcement have to have training and are employed under supervision.
It is a false equivalency to equate an untrained, unsupervised teenager with one who is a member of the military or law enforcement.
The proposed legislation would NOT raise the age in which a person can buy and own a semi-automatic rifle. It would LOWER the age.
The Republican Party of Florida does not care about is citizens lives or the children that were shot dead at Parkland.
This is their way of getting more money donated to them by their Commander in Chief the NRA.
The now Republican Party is destroying the State of Florida and it starts at the top with DeathSantis, he could careless about this State.
Me: DeSantis is not even in this state! He’s on a world tour to promote his book, and promote himself as a Presidential candidate, on our dime.
I thought that the human brain is not fully developed until around age 25 and even then it is probably questionable given the decisions that are being made by some of the mature government officials.