Bill Seeks to lower gun-buying age to 18

Gun Laws (gfx)
Gun Laws (gfx)(MGN)
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 6:14 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE --- Two House Republicans on Monday filed a proposal that would lower the minimum age from 21 to 18 to buy rifles and other “long” guns, potentially scrapping a high-profile change passed after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Rep. Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, and Rep. Tyler Sirois, R-Merritt Island, filed the proposal (HB 1543) as lawmakers prepared to begin the annual legislative session Tuesday.

Lawmakers in 2018 increased the minimum age from 18 to 21 to purchase long guns after former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student 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.

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 panel of the Atlanta-based appeals court heard arguments in May but has not ruled.