Florida House votes to repeal age limit on gun sales

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, Florida enacted a number of gun control laws. It was legislation driven not by fact but by emotion, but it still passed just the same.


Among those regulations was a law that kept people under the age of 21 from buying a long gun.

Since people in that age category are federally banned from buying a handgun as well, it basically prohibited an entire segment of law-abiding adults from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

Now, that law is about to be repealed.

In a vote to undo a controversial move made following the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, the Florida House approved a bill on Friday that would lower the legal buying age for rifles and other “long” firearms from 21 to 18.

Handgun purchases by those under 21 are already prohibited under federal law. The House bill’s sponsor, Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, said during the discussion on the proposal to reduce the age that the legislation “corrects the wrong we did in 2018.” The other elements of the 2018 statute that dealt with mental health and school safety would remain in effect, according to Payne, if the bill (HB 1543) were to pass.

The issue, according to you, is the guns, Payne stated. “I think the policies and interventions are the way forward.”

Democrats, though, were adamantly opposed to eliminating the age requirement, arguing that it had prevented a repeat of the Broward County mass shooting. Democratic state representative Christine Hunschofsky begged her colleagues to maintain the age restriction. She was the mayor of Parkland at the time of the incident. A national “gold standard” for school safety, she referred to the 2018 bill.

“This statute has stood the test of time because there has not been another school shooting in the state of Florida, and I pray to God we never do so that kids will not hide or run to the ground when a balloon pops. This is the wrong direction for us,” she remarked.


Except there weren’t a lot of mass shootings in Florida schools before that law was passed, either.

You can’t pretend that the law you pass in response to a rare incident worked when those kinds of incidents are just as rare afterward.

And there actually have been a number of school shootings in Florida since Parkland, they just didn’t qualify as mass shootings. Again, though, there weren’t all that many beforehand. In fact, I couldn’t find any using the FBI definition of a mass shooting.

Not. A. One.

So it’s disingenuous to pretend this law stopped something that only happened once in the state’s entire history from happening again in less than five years.

Further, as I’ve noted, the law denies the rights of law-abiding citizens to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. It puts a number of law-abiding adults under the age of 21 at severe risk of crime because they can’t even defend themselves in their own homes, all because of the gun control response to an incident that wasn’t exactly all that common in the first place.

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