Florida's age restriction on gun sales upheld by federal appeals court

Florida's age restriction on gun sales upheld by federal appeals court
(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

The state of Florida has a reputation as being fairly pro-gun, a reputation that may well be burnished should it pass constitutional carry.

Yet in the aftermath of the Parkland massacre, the state went a different direction.


Lawmakers, amid public outcry, passed a number of gun control measures such as red flag laws and an age restriction on long gun sales.

The age restriction was a particularly egregious law, one that sparked a lawsuit by the NRA.

On Thursday, a federal court upheld the law.

A U.S. appeals court on Thursday upheld a Florida law barring people under age 21 from buying a gun, rejecting a challenge by the National Rifle Association gun rights lobby group.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the law was in line with the historical tradition of gun regulation in the United States, meeting a new standard for gun control laws set by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.



The 11th Circuit panel decided on Thursday that this one was, pointing to more than a dozen 19th century state laws barring people under 21 from buying guns.

Judge Robin Rosenbaum, who wrote the ruling, said that while those laws did not go back to the nation’s founding, they were relevant because they were passed around the time that the Constitution’s 14th Amendment was adopted, which extended the Second Amendment to state laws.

Two of judges on the panel were appointed by Democratic presidents and one by a Republican.


Now, this is a concern for me. As a I recall, Bruen explicitly directs the courts to consider laws in existence at the time of the nation’s founding, not around the time of the 14th Amendment’s passage, which was the better part of a century later in the wake of the Civil War. [Editors note- Justice Thomas acknowledge in Bruen that there is a “scholarly debate” over “whether courts should primarily rely on the prevailing understanding of an individual right when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868 when defining its scope”, but added that “the public understanding of the right to keep and bear arms in both 1791 and 1868 was, for all relevant purposes, the same with respect to public carry.”]

As such, I find it difficult to believe that should this lawsuit be carried further–and the NRA will most definitely continue with this case if there’s any way they can–that this ruling won’t be overturned.

1868 and 1791 are not the same thing. The passage of the 14th Amendment may well have existed at the same time as a number of age restrictions on the sale of firearms, but it was near 80 years after the Constitution was signed and almost as long since the Second Amendment was ratified.


To say that our Founding Fathers would necessarily have approved of anything happening at that time requires at least some degree of speculation, and that’s not what Bruen laid down.

In that decision, the court notes that the only acceptable gun control is that which existed at the time of the Second Amendment’s creation since that’s the only way to determine which limits the Founders deemed acceptable.

The last time I checked, the aftermath of the Civil War was a very different time with very different attitudes.

So yeah, the court botched this. Looking at the trio, I suspect a couple of the judges twisted themselves and Bruen to justify upholding this law.

The good news is that this allows the challenge to go to the next step. In order to kill these laws nationwide, we need a Supreme Court decision. This provides a potential avenue for one.

It’s just a shame we need it.

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