The National Rifle Association (NRA) filed an appeal in federal court Wednesday on the heels of a June 24 ruling that upheld a Florida law banning individuals under the age of 21 from being able to buy guns.
Florida’s law originally passed in 2018 after Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting that left 17 dead. It was approved by former GOP Gov. Rick Scott. The NRA sued upon its passage in Tallahassee, Florida, and Washington D.C. — claiming it violates the “fundamental rights” of adults to exercise their Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
The NRA filed its notice of appeal in Atlanta’s 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. According to NRA Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer, the organization’s action is to “protect the constitutionally guaranteed rights of all law-abiding adults.” Judge Mark E. Walker’s decision to uphold the law was influenced by the U.S. Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), which included regulations that ban convicts or mentally ill individuals from obtaining guns.
Under the law, rifles, shotguns, and long firearms cannot be sold to people under 21. Handguns are already banned from being sold to those under 21 according to another Florida law. Those 18 to 20 are not permitted to buy guns but they are allowed to own guns, which the state’s attorney general has clarified in the past.
“Florida’s age qualification is reasonably calculated to advance the state’s interest because it applies only to the purchase of firearms,” Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office said in 2020.
Walker described in his June ruling that the case is “squarely in the middle of a constitutional no man’s land,” but gun advocacy groups think differently.
Mark Oliva, spokesman for The National Shooting Sports Foundation, told The Federalist that an 18-year-old adult is fully vested in their rights.
“They take possession of all their rights, those aren’t for government to give and take willy-nilly,” Oliva said. “At 18, they’re an adult. What this law is doing is denying them that right arbitrarily, by saying they can’t purchase a firearm until they’re 21 years old. And this is the same thing that [Supreme Court] Justices, [Clarence] Thomas, [Samuel] Alito, and Brett [Kavanaugh] have complained about — that the states with these laws that are being written are relegating the Second Amendment to a second class right.”
NRA told The Federalist in a statement that 18 to 21-year-olds are adults in the eyes of the Constitution.
“To deny those younger adults their rights because of the actions of criminals is nothing less than political discrimination and it is inconsistent with the Heller decision by the US Supreme Court. The district court agreed this was unfair but ruled his hands were tied by Eleventh Circuit precedent,” they said.