Parkland Law Raising Rifle-Buying Age Challenged in New Florida Bill

Parkland Law Raising Rifle-Buying Age Challenged in New Florida Bill

A bill lowering the gun-buying age to 18 was opposed by families of Parkland victims

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
January 31, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Nearly six years after the school shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas that left 17 dead, Florida moves to lower the firearm purchasing age from 21 back to 18.

"Restoring the rights of young adults to purchase a long gun for not only self-defense but for sporting is very important in my rural area," HB 1223's sponsor, Republican Rep. Bobby Payne, said in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Tuesday afternoon, stressing that the bill applies only to long guns, not to assault rifles or handguns.

"It's important for those individuals to have those rights restored. It aligns Florida's laws for the purchases of rifles and shotguns with a majority of 43 other states in the nation," He added.

The Parkland high school shooting occurred on Valentine's Day in 2018. Florida responded three weeks later with a bipartisan law raising the age to purchase long guns to 21, which the NRA challenged in Court. The Court upheld the law in March 2023, though the 2024 session now sees a Republican-led initiative to re-lower the buying age to 18.

Democrats were joined by parents of the Parkland victims in their opposition to the bill, claiming the dangers of allowing 18-year olds to purchase long guns outweigh the motive to align gun laws with those of other states.

"I'm the father of forever 14 year old Gina. There is no need to backtrack on the safety advances [of current law], yet sadly this piece of legislation does just that," Tony Montalto said in Committee, "We're just 2 weeks away from the sixth commemoration. Our current law is working. I implore each of you to remember that [the current law] law is written in the blood of the Parkland victims, including my beautiful daughter Gina,"

"Tomorrow, Fl House will try to roll back the Marjory Stoneman Douglas act passed after the Parkland shooting," Fred Guttenberg wrote on X yesterday, the father of Parkland victim Jaime Guttenberg. "With no notice & no critical debate, they will take up rolling back waiting periods & age. They are doing this only 2 weeks from the 6 year remembrance of the shooting.

"We passed a law to make sure that what happened at Parkland will never happen again," Democratic Rep. Michele Rayner said, "I'm unclear how I can look at families like the Montaltos 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,"

Another gun bill, HB 17, was also seen and subsequently passed in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. This bill would walk back statute changes enacted after the Parkland shooting, mandating the mandatory waiting period to obtain a firearm to expire after three days.

Both gun bills passed in an 11-5 vote down party lines.


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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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