The National Rifle Association has filed suit against the State of Florida over a new law signed today by Governor Rick Scott that prohibits individuals younger than 21 years of age from purchasing a firearm.
“Florida’s ban is an affront to the Second Amendment, as it totally eviscerates the right of law-abiding adults between the ages of 18 and 21 to keep and bear arms,” the group wrote in a statement today. “We are confident that the courts will vindicate our view that Florida’s ban is a blatant violation of the Second Amendment,” it added.
The Florida bill, SB 7026, prohibits young men and women between the ages of 18 and 21 from purchasing firearms. It also bans the sale of the gun accessory known as the bump stock, gives law enforcement the ability to seize guns and ammunition from individuals deemed to be mentally unfit and allocates $67 million to a provision that arms school teachers so long as both the local school district and sheriff’s department agree.
That provision, known as the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, is named after a football coach and security guard who shielded students from gunfire during the deadly Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting last month in Parkland, FL, in which seventeen people, mostly students, were killed.
Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former Stoneman Douglas student, opened fire on unsuspecting students on February 14. Cruz used an AR-15 assault rifle in the attack.
Before signing the bill, Gov. Scott, acknowledged the strong feelings on both sides of the gun debate. “I know that many wanted more gun control than what is included in this bill. And I know that many believe that this bill has too much gun control,” the Governor said. “I respect the sincerity and the validity of both of these viewpoints.”
In the end, Scott said the bill makes a huge investment in school safety, provides more funding to treat the mentally ill and gives far more tools to keep guns away from people who should be prohibited from having them. “That is why I’m signing the bill today,” he said.
The law was praised by gun-control advocates. In a statement to ITN, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America wrote, “Politicians in Florida actually carried out many of their constituents’ demands and ignored the objections of NRA lobbyists. That’s how our government should work, and this legislation is just the latest proof point that the NRA’s political power is quickly eroding.”
The NRA reiterated their support for increased school safety and keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally impaired, but they criticized provisions in the law that punish law-abiding citizens due to the criminal actions of a few.
“The National Rifle Association has always supported measures to increase school security, fix our broken mental health system and keep firearms out of the hands of those with a dangerous mental illness,” the organization wrote in a statement. “However…Preventing a responsible 20-year-old from purchasing the best tool for self-defense will not stop a deranged criminal intent on committing a crime.”
“The deranged murderer in Parkland, Florida gave repeated warning signs that were ignored by federal and state officials. If we want to prevent future atrocities, we must look for solutions that keep guns out of the hands of those who are a danger to themselves or others, while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans,” it added.