NRA appeals decision upholding Florida’s gun sale age limit

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 4:21 PM CDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Florida raised the age to purchase long guns from 18 to 21 following the Parkland shooting, where a 19-year-old gunman killed 17 with a legally purchased firearm.

Federal law already required a person to be at least 21 to purchase a handgun. The NRA is appealing a recent ruling that upheld Florida’s age limit because the organization claims the restriction discriminates against 18, 19, and 20-year-old adults. In the initial ruling against the NRA, the judge described the age limit of 21 to purchase a firearm as falling into a ‘constitutional no man’s land’. The NRA’s Marion Hammer doesn’t see it that way.

“18 to 21-year-olds are full adults with all the rights and responsibilities of adulthood,” said Hammer.

Nancy Fry with Moms Demand Action argued it’s within a state’s right to put age restrictions on firearms in the name of public safety.

“Firearm homicides are four times as likely to be committed by someone between the ages of 18 to 20,” said Fry.

But Hammer called the law passed in the wake of the Parkland shooting ‘political discrimination’.

“This bill is nothing more than political discrimination against young people because of the actions of a mentally ill young person that the system, adults, elected officials failed to deal with,” said Hammer.

The district court ruling did express concerns that law is likely to have the largest impact on 18 to 20-year-olds who could benefit most from owning a gun. Under the law 18 to 20-year-olds can be gifted a gun by a family member, but for those without family, the law acts as a total ban.

“To deny that single mother, who has a child and a home to protect, the right to protect herself and her child is just totally wrong,” said Hammer.

Supporters of the law argue history is on their side.

“There’s 150 years of case law showing a purchase age of 21 for guns,” said Fry.

And it’s that history on which the District Judge based his decision. At the Appellate Court level, however, there’s more flexibility to divert from precedent, making it difficult to predict the ultimate outcome of this case. Florida is one of just four states that bans the sale of all firearms to those under 21.