Florida law raising age to 21 for firearms purchases upheld in blow to NRA court challenge

Gun Rights

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Florida can ban adults under 21 years of age from purchasing guns, upholding a state law enacted weeks after the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled unanimously that the Supreme Court’s recent landmark decision set a new test for interpreting the Second Amendment by requiring the government to justify gun control laws by showing they are “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”


Rick Scott
FILE – Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., heads to a classified briefing on China, at the Capitol in Washington, Feb. 15, 2023. Last year, Scott, laid out a plan to require Congress to reconsider all federal laws every five years — leading to criticism by President Joe Biden that Social Security and Medicare would be cut. After several months of flak, Scott on Friday revised his plan to specifically exclude Social Security and Medicare. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The three-judge panel found that the Second Amendment didn’t afford young adults an unimpeded ability to buy firearms.

“The Act’s restriction on the sale of firearms to 18-to-20-year-olds is consistent with this nation’s relevant historical tradition of firearm regulations,” wrote Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum, an appointee of former President Barack Obama.

Then-Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act in 2018, just a few weeks after a 19-year-old killed 14 students and three adult staff members.

The National Rifle Association sued to block the statute, citing militia laws enforced at the time the Constitution was ratified and required those 18 and older to join and bring their own arms.

“At the time of the founding, no law imposed restrictions on young adults’ ability to purchase firearms,” an attorney for the NRA told the appeals court.

A federal judge in 2021 upheld the law, finding it was part of a “long-standing” restriction that courts had upheld in the past. During the NRA’s appeals process, the Supreme Court issued its 2022 ruling in which the justices cut down a New York gun law that found any gun control measure must be consistent with the nation’s historic tradition to be constitutional.


Rosenbaum’s unanimous opinion was joined by Judge Charles R. Wilson, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, and Judge Anne C. Conway, a Republican-appointed U.S. District Judge from Florida who was participating with the 11th Circuit as a visiting judge.

The decision comes as Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has voiced opposition to the law passed under Scott. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) said the age restriction measure could be reconsidered as GOP lawmakers have introduced a measure to lower the age back to 18.

Original Location: Florida law raising age to 21 for firearms purchases upheld in blow to NRA court challenge

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