Bill to lower the age to purchase a rifle advances in the Florida House

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After a contentious debate Thursday the Florida House Judiciary Committee advanced a bill that would lower the legal age to purchase a rifle or long gun from 21 to 18.

It comes five years after the state raised the age to 21.


After the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the Republican-controlled state Legislature passed a bill to protect people from school shooters.

The bill did a number of things recommended by the commission formed after that shooting to evaluate school safety. One was to increase the age to purchase a rifle or long gun from 18 to 21.

But Thursday one of the sponsors of a new bill, Republican Representative Bobby Payne from Central Florida, said it’s time to reverse that.

“Quite frankly, we’ve infringed upon the rights of 21 to 18-year-olds under our Constitution and 14th Amendment as seen by the Supreme Court to not allow ages 18, 19 and 20-year-olds to own a firearm,” Payne said.

HB 1543 advanced on a vote of 16-6.

Democratic Representative Dan Daley graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Before the vote, he called the bill “a slap in the face [to the] deceased and family of the deceased.”

“The research has been clear for years that the prefrontal cortex – that’s the portion of the brain responsible for executive brain function – is not fully developed until [age] 25. Maybe it’s part of the reason we don’t allow folks to drink until they’re 21. But we’re willing to change the law here and let them have access to a long gun again?” Daley asked the committee.

Daley says that since the 2018 Parkland massacre, there have been 2700 mass shootings in the United States. More than 100 have happened just this year.

He says that “six out of the nine deadliest mass school shootings since 2018 were conducted by individuals 21 and younger.”