Federal Court of Appeals to Consider Florida Gun Law

TALLAHASSEE — The Full Court of Federal Appeals said Friday it will begin legal battle over a 2018 Florida law that bans the sale of rifles and other long-barreled weapons to persons under the age of 21.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a March decision by a three-judge panel that upheld the law’s constitutionality. The court in Atlanta said that the case will be “reheard in full”, that is, in full.

The one-paragraph ruling does not explain the reasons put forward by the court. But the National Rifle Association, which challenged the constitutionality of the law, demanded a rehearing of the case in its entirety.

Legislature and then Governor. Rick Scott approved the bill after the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Nicholas Cruz, who was 19 at the time, used an AR-15 rifle to kill 17 students and school staff and injure 17 others at the school.

Federal law already prohibits the sale of firearms to persons under the age of 21.

The NRA filed the lawsuit after the passage of the 2018 law. But Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker dismissed the lawsuit in 2021, ruling that previous court decisions gave states leeway to impose Second Amendment restrictions in some cases.

The NRA filed an appeal, and a three-judge panel delivered its decision on March 9.

The panel’s decision relied heavily on a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case known as New York State Gunmen and Pistols Association v. Bruen, which said gun laws should “conform with this country’s historical tradition of regulating firearms.” “.

The commission said Florida law was in keeping with such a tradition and pointed to age limits since Reconstruction. It also states that the law allows persons under the age of 21 to own or use a weapon, such as a weapon they receive as a gift.

“To begin with, the law is no more restrictive than its predecessors: while the law limits the rights of 18–20 year olds to purchase firearms, unlike its Reconstruction-era counterparts, it still leaves 18–20 year olds “Elderly people are free to acquire firearms of any type, including ‘typical self-defense weapons’, handguns… by legal means, as long as they don’t buy guns,” Judge Robin Rosenbaum wrote in an opinion with which the judge fully endorsed. Ann Conway. Judge Charles Wilson wrote a short concurring opinion.

But on March 30, the NRA filed a motion for a full rehearing. Along with challenging the group’s historical analysis, the NRA said in its motion that “the denial of a fundamental right by hundreds of thousands of law-abiding, responsible citizens raises an issue of critical importance requiring” a rehearing.

Friday’s order did not set a date for the arguments.

The order comes after renewed debate in the Legislative Assembly this spring over the 2018 law. In April, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would have allowed people under the age of 21 to buy rifles and other long-barreled weapons, but the Senate did not consider the issue.

During a debate in the House of Representatives, sponsor Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, said the bill “corrects a mistake we made in 2018.” He also argued that it would leave other parts of the 2018 law dealing with mental health and safety in schools intact.

“You see the problem with the gun,” Payne said. “I see intervention and politics as the answer.”

But Rep. Christine Hunshofsky, a Democrat who was mayor of Parkland at the time of the shooting, pleaded with her colleagues to keep the age limit.

“This law has stood the test of time because we haven’t had another high school shooting in the state of Florida and I hope we never do so that kids don’t hide, fall to the ground when a balloon bursts. … We are on the wrong track here,” she said.

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