House Criminal Justice Subcommittee signs off on bill to lower firearm purchase age

by | Mar 13, 2023

  • House Bill 1543 was approved by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee in Florida.
  • The bill proposes reducing the minimum age for firearm purchases from twenty-one to eighteen years old.
  • Rep. Bobby Payne introduced the bill, arguing that not allowing eighteen to twenty-year-olds to buy guns would infringe on their constitutional rights.

The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee approved House Bill 1543 on Monday, which proposes a reduction in the minimum age required to purchase firearms in Florida.

Rep. Bobby Payne introduced the bill, which would amend current state law to establish the minimum age to purchase firearms as eighteen, compared to the current age requirement of twenty-one. The bill would also prohibit licensed manufacturers, licensed importers, or licensed dealers to sell or transfer firearms to individuals aged eighteen or older.

In defending the legislation, Payne argued that the constitutional right to bear arms should extend to individuals aged eighteen to twenty, and not allowing them to purchase firearms would be an infringement on their rights.

“I feel like it’s an infringement on eighteen, nineteen, twenty years old Constitutionally to not allow them to have rights to firearms, long guns, and rifles,” he said.

However, Democratic committee members expressed concerns about the safety implications of allowing individuals younger than twenty-one to purchase firearms. They cited Nikolas Cruz, the then-nineteen-year-old perpetrator of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed seventeen students and staff members.

“What I’m concerned about is an eighteen-year-old who may not be mature enough, is walking around with a weapon,” said Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby.

After the Parkland shooting, Florida raised the minimum age requirement to purchase firearms to twenty-one years old with the enactment of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.

Rep. Ashley Gantt further probed the bill’s rationale by questioning whether the state held a valid reason to overturn the 2018 legislation. In response, Payne elucidated that there was no marked difference in shooting trends in the eighteen to twenty-one age group following the enactment of the Public Safety bill.

Moreover, he expressed a desire to align state law with federal law, which mandates that the minimum age for firearm ownership be set at twenty-one years old.

Payne’s proposal picked up support from the Gun Owners of America, which encouraged the subcommittee to vote favorably on the bill.

“Eighteen to twenty-one-year-olds are lawfully adults under the color of our law,” said Spokesperson Luis Valdez. “We have nineteen-year-olds who become law enforcement officers and seventeen-year-olds who enlist and take the oath of enlistment to fight for our nation. We don’t trust them to purchase a firearm? We’re saying an eighteen-year-old or a nineteen-year-old could be a law enforcement officer and enforce the laws, but can’t have the mental capacity to understand and carry a firearm. It makes absolutely no sense.”

Meanwhile, Katherine Allen, a survivor of the Parkland shooting and representative for Students Demand Action, urged lawmakers to turn down the measure.

“I’m asking you not to go back on your word, and enable teenagers to purchase firearms in Florida. In my school, Uvalde, and in Buffalo, the shooter legally purchased a gun before turning twenty-one. This age range overwhelmingly represents perpetrators of mass violence. With that in mind, why would we give an age group more prone to violence a weapon that can cause so much disruption?”


  1. Deborah Coffey

    So, an 18 year old high school senior can pack a 9mm on his hip in class, shoot his ex-girlfriend and teacher dead…because he has constitutional rights? Doesn’t a first grader have those same constitutional rights? Funny that one your following articles describes a major teacher shortage. What a surprise! And, never mind from Ron DeSantis that 77% of Floridians don’t want permitless carry! We’re doing it anyway.

  2. k. Kibbey

    Nice picture of of a pellet gun, which is not a firearm by Florida Statute.

  3. Frank Thompson

    More winning!

  4. Anonymous

    You have to be 21 to buy alcohol, but a gun that can injure & kill far more people is ok? I was raised with guns, but I still think this is ridiculous. Also, 18-20 yr olds shouldn’t be police officers. That’s a different issue though.

    • Ken

      You realize the only reason the drinking age is 21 is due to Elizabeth Dole, as Secretary of Transportation under Reagan, used federal money to force states to raise the age limit.

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