Florida Panel Advances Bill Correcting Gun Control Error

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

In the wake of Parkland, Florida did a number of things I wasn’t thrilled with. As I don’t live in Florida, though, I couldn’t do more than kvetch about it here.


One of the most egregious, in my opinion, was restricting what firearms adults under the age of 21 could purchase. Yes, the killer was in that category, but it was like the teacher giving detention to the whole class because one student acted up. Punish the offender, not everyone else.

That’s not what Florida did, though.

Now, a handful of years later, it seems lawmakers there are working to undo that mistake. A bill seeking to do just that has advanced in the legislature.

A Florida House committee Tuesday voted to repeal part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, paving the way for teenagers to buy rifles like the one used to kill 17 students and teachers six years ago in Parkland, Broward County.

The proposal (HB 1223) by Rep. Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, aligns state law with federal regulations. It cleared the Criminal Justice Committee on a 11-5 party line vote, with GOP lawmakers in support. It has one more committee before it can be heard on the House floor; there is no Senate companion bill.

Payne told fellow lawmakers Florida is one of just seven states to set a minimum age of 21 to purchase a long gun, defined as a firearm with a barrel long enough to require two hands to use. Restoration of that right for teens was the right thing to do, he added.

“… Restoring the rights of young adults to purchase a long gun is very important in my rural area. We do a lot of bird hunting,” Payne said.

The explanation left the ranking Democrat on the committee flabbergasted. Rep. Michele Rayner, D-St. Petersburg, said she understood people feel passionate about gun rights. But she noted the Parkland gunman also was a teen.

She referred to him as “a child whose brain was not fully developed, obtaining a gun and committing a complete massacre,” she said. “This doesn’t make sense. It is not in the best interest of public safety.”


Do you ever notice how anti-gunners might trot out this particular claim–and it’s a valid one according to neuroscience–with regard to guns but not anything else? It’s never that their brains are not fully developed so they can’t make a rational choice on who to vote for, for example. It’s never that their not fully-formed brain makes them a risk behind even the wheel of a car, which isn’t a constitutionally protected right.

No, it’s just when it comes to exercising their right to keep and bear arms.

Let’s remember that numerous mass shootings have been carried out by those over the age of 21 and by those under the age of 18. Targeting this particular group for second-class status isn’t really productive and Florida never should have done it.

Especially knowing it won’t do anything except put these younger adults in harm’s way.

It’s time to change the law that never should have happened. Florida has a chance to correct its past mistakes. Let’s hope they do just that.


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