Federal Court to Hear Challenge to Florida Gun Law

Rick Scott


The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled a time when it will hear a challenge to a Florida law that bans 18 to 20-year-olds from purchasing rifles and shotguns. The court will hear the arguments during the week of March 21, 2022.

The law in question is the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, named after the school where the Parkland school shooting took place. The assailant was underage and used a modern sporting rifle during the shooting.

The bill was backed by Florida Republicans and signed by then-Gov. Rick Scott (R) that raised the purchasing age of rifles and shotguns to 21. Previously, there had been no such law in the books in Florida, but federal law does not permit 18 to 20-year-olds from purchasing handguns.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) filed the challenge to the law saying the law violates 2nd Amendment rights. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker upheld the ban earlier this year, leading to the appeal.

Just last month, the numerous families of Parkland victims just reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) after it was revealed the FBI failed to respond to tips to warning about the shooter, including the shooter’s mental instability.

The DOJ agreed to pay the families almost $130 million.

The Florida law was passed with immense pressure on lawmakers to legislatively act in favor of gun control, an issue many Republicans historically avoid. Since its passing, there has been more than one effort to repeal the Parkland legislation, to no avail.

However, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has suggested he would sign a constitutional carry provision if it came across his desk. DeSantis’ spokeswoman, Christina Pushaw, said they are monitoring legislation but cannot officially comment.

“The governor cannot comment on the details of legislation that he has not seen yet,” said Christina Pushaw, a spokesperson for DeSantis. “Our office will be monitoring legislation throughout the process and will let you know if we have any updates to share on this topic.”

Florida State Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R-FL-32) is sponsoring the legislation and has been highly critical of Florida Republican leadership on, what he sees, is a lack of initiative to expand gun rights and roll back the Parkland legislation.

“Our very liberal Republican Speaker Chris Sprowls has gotten tens of thousands of emails from gun groups,” said Sabatini. “You don’t have to go ask the government for permission.”

Gun rights groups have said Florida’s firearms policy climate is behind, compared to other states. Sabatini continued calling Florida’s concealed carry program “unconstitutional.”

“This Bill eliminates the unconstitutional ‘permit’ program which requires law abiding Florida citizens to ask the government for permission and pay money before carrying a firearm—it also allows for Open Carry,” Sabatini said.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips. 

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