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Court Upholds FL Law Banning Youths Under 21 From Buying Guns

A federal appeals court ruled that Florida can constitutionally ban adults under 21 years of age from purchasing guns, upholding a state law enacted weeks after the 2018 school massacre in Parkland, Fla. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a unanimous three-judge opinion, said the Supreme Court’s recent expansion of Second Amendment rights didn’t give 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,” Judge Robin Rosenbaum wrote, the Wall Street Journal reports. Florida legislators passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act less than a month after the rampage at the South Florida school. The attack was carried out by a 19-year-old who used a legally purchased semiautomatic rifle to kill 14 students and three adult staff members. The shooting led to student marches and school walkouts demanding tougher gun laws. Then-Gov. Rick Scott signed the law, which banned gun purchases by young adults. The measure still allowed them to possess firearms.


The National Rifle Association sued to block the statute. It cited militia laws enforced at the time the Constitution was ratified that required those 18 and older to join and bring their own arms. The 11th Circuit panel rejected the NRA’s historical argument and gave more weight to state laws enacted before and after the Civil War that banned sales of pistols and other deadly weapons to people 18 to 20 years old. “Tragically, under-21-year-old gunmen continue to intentionally target others—now, with disturbing regularity, in schools. So along with math, English, and science, schoolchildren must become proficient in running, hiding, and fighting armed gunmen in schools. Their lives depend upon it,” wrote Rosenbaum. State GOP lawmakers introduced legislation this month to return the minimum purchase age to 18. “There is no reason why an adult who is old enough to defend his or her country should be restricted from exercising their Second Amendment rights,” NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said. The case is among several pending in federal courts that test the constitutionality of age restrictions on firearms. Last year, a federal judge ruled that Texas may not prohibit people 18 to 20 years old from carrying handguns for self-defense outside the home. Texas initially said it would seek to overturn the ruling but withdrew its appeal in December.

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