Florida Elected Officials Advance Bill to Scrap Age Limits to Purchase Rifles

On March 13, 2023, a panel in the Florida State House voted in favor of a bill that would lower the minimum age from 21 to 18 to acquire rifles and other long guns in Florida. This bill — (HB 1543) — has the support of Florida Florida House Speaker Paul Renner and would overturn part of a 2018 law that created the minimum age of 21 to purchase rifles after the Parkland Massacre. This incident witnessed a gunman slaughter 17 students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The murderer Nikolas Cruz used a semi-automatic rifle to carry out this heinous attack. 

On March 13, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee voted 12-5 on a partisan basis to support the bill.  Under this law, Florida residents under 21 can receive rifles and other long guns as gifts but cannot buy them. 

“The Florida House is restoring the ability of young adults to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Renner declared in a prepared statement following the vote. “Florida allows 18- to 20-year-old adults to obtain a long gun by having it gifted to them. This bill expands Second Amendment rights and improves public safety, because it requires young adults who have the intent of purchasing a long gun to go through the background check process that is consistent with Florida law.”

This legislation was signed into law by former Republican Governor and now United States Senator Rick Scott, which shows that even Republicans can’t always be trusted when it comes to defending the Second Amendment, much less passing pro-gun legislation. 

Florida currently has solid Republican control in all three branches of its government – Governor, State Senate (28-12), and State House (84-35) — so it stands to reason that such legislation would be passed this session. However, nothing is a given in politics. So gun rights activists must stay vigilant and put as much pressure as possible on their elected officials to get them to vote right. 

Ultimately, pressure is the only language politicians understand and they must be reminded that they serve constituencies that demand reforms on key issues such as gun rights. 

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