The Florida House passes a bill to overturn one post-Parkland safety measure by lowering the age to buy rifles

guns gun violence die-in
Die-in against gun violence, Tampa. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (12 June 2018).

©2024 The News Service of Florida

While the issue has not moved forward in the Senate, the Florida House on Friday passed a controversial bill that would lower the minimum age from 21 to 18 to buy rifles and shotguns.

The Republican-controlled House voted 76-35 along almost straight party lines to pass the bill (HB 1223), which would reverse a decision that raised the minimum age after the 2018 mass shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people.

Federal law bars people under 21 from buying handguns.

Democrats on Friday repeatedly cited the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting as they opposed the bill.

Rep. Robin Bartleman, D-Weston, said lawmakers should not “renege” on a promise the Legislature made when it passed the higher minimum age as part of a broader school safety bill.

“Shame on us,” Bartleman said. “We told the citizens of Florida that we were going to protect them.”

But bill sponsor Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, pointed to Second Amendment rights and people needing to defend themselves.

“I’m not worried about our schools. Our schools are safe in Florida. We’ve heard it was the gold standard,” Payne said. “What I’m worried about is my kids, my grandkids and your kids that can’t defend themselves because we’re restricting their rights.”

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, has repeatedly said the Senate doesn’t have a similar bill, meaning the proposed age change will not pass during this year’s legislative session.

Rep. Linda Chaney, R-St. Pete Beach, Rep. Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, Rep. Vicki Lopez, R-Miami, and Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, R-Saint Johns, joined Democrats in voting against the bill Friday.

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