House passes bill lowering long gun purchase age from 21 to 18
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Long gun rifle
The bill would undo a portion of gun legislation passed in the wake of the Parkland school shooting tragedy.

The House passed legislation that would lower the legal age to buy a rifle or long gun from 21 to 18, resurrecting emotional debate over gun laws. Democrats scolded Republicans for rolling back part of the gun control measures passed into law after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland in 2018.

“The blood of people — not hunters, or animals or whatever … but human beings will be on your hands,” said Rep. Felicia Robinson, a Miami Gardens Democrat, during the debate.

The bill (HB 1543) passed 69-36, with three Republicans — Reps. Linda Chaney of St. Pete Beach, Karen Gonzalez Pittman of Tampa and Vicki Lopez of Miami — joining Democrats to vote against it. It now heads to the Senate. However, there is no companion legislation in the upper chamber and the issue hasn’t been heard in committee, meaning its chances of passing in the final week of Session are slim.

GOP supporters defended the bill as restoring rights to 18-20 year olds, allowing them to protect themselves.

“This bill comes down to a discussion of the friction that exists between freedom and security,” said Rep. Tyler Sirois, a Merritt Island Republican. “The right of self-defense is not for the privileged alone. It is for all of us.”

In response to the mass shooting in Parkland, which left 17 dead including 14 teen students, Florida Republicans and Democrats crafted an omnibus bill that included many provisions for school safety as well as three gun control measures: reducing the age to buy long guns from 21 to 18, banning bump stocks and extending the waiting period to buy a gun to three days.

The National Rifle Association filed suit immediately after then-Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law in a three-judge ruling, but the NRA has asked for the full court to review the case.

Emotions ran high throughout current debate, as Democrats accused Republicans of rolling back measures that worked to prevent another Parkland-style massacre.

“I went to 15 of those funerals,” said Rep. Robin Bartleman, a Weston Democrat who offered an amendment to neuter the bill. “Please, this is an opportunity to do the right thing.”

Rep. Bobby Payne, a Palatka Republican who sponsored the bill, pointed to the other parts of the post-Parkland bill, including hundreds of millions for school safety programs, increased funding for mental health programs and red flag laws to allow police to remove firearms from someone who might be a danger to themselves or others.

“The interventions we put in place are the model for the U.S.,” Payne said.

Gray Rohrer


  • Billy the Bamboozler McClure

    April 28, 2023 at 7:29 pm

    GOP wants more Nicholas Cruz maniacs.. that way they can hand down more death sentences, justify the right wing police state, and have plenty of material for police state political theatre.

  • Michael K

    April 28, 2023 at 8:09 pm

    Yep. More gun manufacturers money pouring into Republican bloody hands, bringing more guns, more killings, more death, and more guns. The answer to gun violence? Thoughts and prayers? More guns.

    Absolute insanity, and a huge middle finger to those who have suffered through mass murders. Disgusting, shameful, selfish cowards.

  • Bert Stimson

    April 28, 2023 at 11:50 pm

    The NRA owns the Republican Party.

  • PeterH

    April 29, 2023 at 12:55 am

    God Bless Republican Bobby Jindal’s “Party of Stupids” who control our State Legislature!

    An AR-15 has absolutely nothing to do with “an 18 year old protecting themself!”

    Today’s GQP has gone full time stupid! Vote all Republicans out of office.

  • Dont Say FLA

    April 29, 2023 at 9:55 am

    Well this is great news that 18 year old high school students can now purchase their own AR15 and won’t have to borrow dad’s AR15 anymore for their last day at school.

  • PeterH

    April 29, 2023 at 10:47 am

    Friday’s mass shooting in Texas because the gunman didn’t like his neighbors asking him to stop firing his AR-15 in his back yard. Five dead including an eight year old who will never get to experience his first amendment rights.

    Florida legislators want to authorize 18 year old children to own a AR-15 military grade assault weapon.

  • Marilyn

    April 29, 2023 at 4:49 pm

    We know frontal lobes (for good judgement) don’t develop in males until age 25, so how sensible is it lowering the age to 18 to allow long gun purchases? But then, have the frontal lobes even developed in the brains of these older legislators who voted for this HB 1543?

  • Beth

    April 29, 2023 at 4:58 pm

    What a bunch of sick corrupt heartless scum. . Same creeps who reject abortion because they “care so much “ about children. What a sick joke. These pigs care about themselves only and don’t care what children get killed as long as they get their nra money. Every single one of them needs to be voted out and I wish them all a lifetime of misery.

  • Jo Mama

    May 9, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    LOL you guys are funny. lets blame the gun, and not the mentally unstable people using them. you are the problem.

Comments are closed.


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