This Shows Just How Well Florida's Age Limits are Working

AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File

In the wake of Parkland, Florida passed a number of gun control bills despite GOP control of the legislature. A lot of people on the anti-gun side saw this as a roadmap of where to go in other states.


It hasn't really worked out that way for them, thankfully, but it hasn't stopped them from trying.

One of the measures that was passed raised the minimum age for buying a long gun to 21, the same age as the federal limit for buying handguns. The idea was that no one under 21 could lawfully purchase any firearm.

This was because the Parkland killer was under 21, obviously.

While mass murders have happened in Florida since then, many still think that the age limit is a good idea. That's why an effort to eliminate it went absolutely nowhere.

Yet an op-ed looking at the law enforcement response raises questions about the efficacy of the law.

Receiving a call regarding multiple shooting victims is a situation no police chief wants to face, whether it occurs in the early hours of a Sunday morning on Halloween weekend or during a busy Tuesday afternoon. Since being sworn in as Tampa’s chief last summer, I have unfortunately had to respond to such calls.

In both instances, the shootings were connected to gun crimes involving juveniles. These incidents not only put innocent lives at risk but mirror a troubling national trend that has kept me awake at night. While our investigators acted swiftly to make arrests in both cases, this provides little consolation to those who have been physically and emotionally affected, both directly and indirectly.

However, gun violence involving our youth is an issue that extends beyond these incidents. Just this month, a 14-year-old was tragically found shot to death in our community. The repercussions of such incidents are profound, affecting not only the immediate families but also our broader Tampa community. It is imperative that our children feel safe and empowered to pursue their aspirations without fear.


Now, the op-ed, written by Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw, is about the police department's response to this issue, and it includes things like sports leagues and the like. It's a common enough response since the thinking is that bored kids are more likely to become criminals.

Yet my takeaway here is that Florida is a state that restricts all gun sales to people over 21. There's no chance of a 14-year-old buying any firearm lawfully. That means the kind of person who would have a beef with a 14-year-old isn't likely to be able to buy one, either.

So where are they getting them?

The short answer is that they're getting them via the black market, much like how older criminals get them. The difference is a 14-year-old found with a gun is going to be charged as a juvenile in most cases, so long as they don't commit a particularly heinous offense otherwise.

In other words, the age restrictions meant to prevent this sort of thing aren't accomplishing jack squat.

Now, I'm not saying we should let children buy guns lawfully. Just like they don't get to vote until they're 18, they don't get many of their other rights in full until they're 18 either. That includes being able to buy firearms.


But those who are 18 and are living in Florida can't buy guns. They're second-class citizens in all but name, and that's wrong. Especially since it's clear that the age restrictions aren't doing much of anything to keep minors from getting guns.

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