State Watch

NRA appealing Florida ban on gun sales to people under 21

The National Rifle Association (NRA) filed an appeal Wednesday after a judge last month upheld a Florida law that prohibits people younger than 21 from purchasing guns.

Former Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed legislation in 2018 that enacted new restrictions on gun purchases following the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which resulted in 17 deaths.

Among other provisions, the law raised the age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21 and imposed a three-day waiting period for the majority of long-gun purchases.

The NRA filed a lawsuit over the law shortly after it was signed, asking a federal judge to stop it from going into effect.

The group, in a statement to The Hill, said it is filing the appeal to “protect the constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment rights of all law-abiding adults,” before calling the restrictions on gun purchases for 18 to 21 years olds “nothing less than political discrimination.”

“There is no question that 18-21 year olds are adults in the eyes of the law and the Constitution. To deny those younger adults their rights because of the actions of criminals is nothing less than political discrimination and it is inconsistent with the Heller decision by the US Supreme Court,” the NRA wrote.

“The district court agreed this was unfair but ruled his hands were tied by Eleventh Circuit precedent,” the group added.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker last week upheld the law, claiming that it followed legal precedent, according to The Sun Sentinel. He did, however, say the case fell “squarely in the middle of a constitutional no man’s land.”

Walker reportedly focused part of his ruling on a landmark 2008 Supreme Court case, District of Columbia v. Heller, which was considered a victory for pro-gun advocates, but did say there were certain “longstanding prohibitions” regarding guns that do not breach the Second Amendment, including restrictions on mentally ill individuals and felons.

The judge wrote that the age restrictions for purchasing guns are “analogous” to the limitations in the Heller case.

The NRA is now appealing that decision, the Sun Sentinel reported.

The notice did not provide details of the NRA’s arguments, but one of the organization’s longtime Florida lobbyists and former president, Marion Hammer, told the newspaper that the group is making an effort to “protect the constitutionally guaranteed rights of all law-abiding adults.”


As the 2018 age restriction law makes it way through the courts, Florida’s Republican leadership is working to enact new pro-gun measures.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in May signed a bill that bans local governments from imposing their own gun regulations.

The law allows legal action for “unwritten” local policies that go against regulation preemption, and it permits local governments to be forced to pay damages and attorney fees even if they alter their gun-related policies after the lawsuits are filed, according to the Sun Sentinel.

-Updated 2:45 p.m.

Tags District of Columbia v. Heller Florida gun deaths Gun politics in the United States Gun reform Gun rights gun sales gun violence Marjory Stoneman Douglas Mark Walker National Rifle Association NRA Parkland shooting Rick Scott Ron DeSantis Second Amendment

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