'Black-on-Black Crime': House Fighting Losing Battle to Reverse Parkland Gun-Buying Law

'Black-on-Black Crime': House Fighting Losing Battle to Reverse Parkland Gun-Buying Law

The Florida House has passed a bill reversing Parkland-era gun laws, though the lack of Senate companion casts doubt on the bill's future

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
March 1, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, FL—The Florida House is trying to lower the rifle-buying age to 18, reversing a 2018 law enacted following the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. Despite being a "non-starter" in the Senate, the House is still trying to push this bill through the Legislature.

"People need to be able to protect themselves," HB 1223's sponsor, Republican Rep. Bobby Payne, said on the House Floor Friday. "Some Democrats who want to take our guns complain about gun violence—much of which is black-on-black crime and the use of stolen guns. Criminals attack innocent people every day."

The bill, which lowers the purchasing age for a rifle or shotgun from 21 to 18, does not have a Senate companion, and to become law, a bill must pass both the Senate and the House.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo told reporters that the legislation is a "non-starter" in her chamber, so unless a bill appears in the Senate before the end of session next week, HB 1223 will not become law.

"[The 2018 law] has worked, the law has kept our kids safe," Democratic Rep. Dan Daley said Friday, an alumni of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. "What's changed? The facts and data haven't changed...To add insult to injury, there is no Senate companion, so you're being put on the board with this bad bill that will never be law in this state—thankfully."

"It's not if there's going to be another mass shooting, but when," Democratic Rep. Yvonne Hinson said in opposition. "Six of the nine deadliest mass shootings in the United States since 2018 were by people under 21."

The Parkland high school shooting occurred on Valentine's Day in 2018. 18-year-old Nikolas Cruz entered Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15, murdering 17 students and staff. 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 last year, though the Republican-led House is now attempting a reversal. Bill proponents explain this measure is done to align Florida with 43 other states allowing 18-year-olds to purchase rifles and shotguns.

"I'm not worried about our schools. Our schools are safe in Florida. What I'm worried about is my kids, my grandkids, and your kids. They can't defend themselves because we're restricting their rights," Rep. Payne said. "So today I'm standing on the side of our framers, I'm standing on the side of our Constitution,"

"I'm standing on the side that says people at the age of majority can vote, they can serve in the military, they can sign a contract, they can be convicted of a felony, put to death. They can't buy a long gun in our state, but can in 43 other states," he added.

In a 76-35 vote, the bill passed the House Floor. Its future, however, is dimming every day as the end of session creeps closer with no Senate counterpart.

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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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