The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee approved a bill that would lower the age for purchasing certain firearms from 21 to 18, in a move that challenges the existing age limit set following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting
The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on Tuesday advanced a bill to lower the age for purchasing certain firearms from 21 to 18, which would repeal the age limit established by then-Gov. Rick Scott following a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
The bill seeks to revise the current age limit set by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act of 2018. The legislation, passed in response to the shooting that killed 17 people, raised the firearm purchasing age and introduced other gun control measures including a bump stock ban and a waiting period for firearm purchases.
If enacted, the bill would permit individuals aged 18 and over to buy long guns from both federal firearms licensees and private sellers. The bill does not change the federal law that prohibits federally licensed dealers from selling handguns to those under 21, but it would allow private handgun sales to individuals aged 18 and older. The proposed legislation, sponsored by Republican Reps. Bobby Payne and Tyler Sirois passed the committee with a vote of 11-5.
During the meeting, Payne contended that reducing the age limit to 18 is important for young adults, particularly in rural areas, for activities like hunting, and drew parallels to age limits for various responsibilities and rights.
“The real belief is that restoring the rights of young adults to purchase a long gun or not only for self-defense but for sporting is very important in my rural area,” he said. “We quail hunt. We do a lot of bird hunting. It’s important for those for those individuals to have their rights restored, and the majority is 18.”
Despite its passage through the committee, the bill faced heavy opposition, including that of Scott, who rebuked the proposal during a Tallahassee press conference on Tuesday.
“Your heart goes out to these families,” said Scott, as first reported by Florida Politics. “We passed historic legislation that I’m proud that we passed. … I support what we passed.”
Rep. Michele Rayner also expressed concerns about public safety and the maturity of younger individuals purchasing firearms, questioning the motives of the bill.
“I am unclear to understand what is the compelling state interest that we are doing this,” they said. “I am unclear … how I can look families in the face and say ‘you know what, my right as an 18-year-old to have a gun means more than your child’s life.’ I’m unclear how we are still here.”
The bill now moves to the House Judiciary Committee. A Senate companion has not yet been filed, and it is currently unclear as to whether Gov. Ron DeSantis supports the legislation.