Federal Appeals Court Upholds Florida Law for Age-Restricting Gun Law

March 14, 2023 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements

Although Florida is considered a relatively lenient state when it comes to purchasing and owning a gun, there has been much debate over the bill passed in 2018. Under SB 7026, it became illegal for any person under 21 to legally purchase a firearm. Despite challenges from the NRA, the 11th Circuit Court has just upheld the ruling.

This article will provide information on SB 7026, the NRA’s challenge to the law, and the data on recent mass shootings in the United States.

Former Gov. Rick Scott’s 2018 Gun Restrictions

In March 2018, previous Florida Governor Rick Scott signed SB 7026 into law. This was the first gun control legislation passed after the tragic Parkland school massacre that took place on February 14th, 2018. One of the main aspects of the bill was raising the legal limit for buying a firearm from 18 to 21.

Senate Bill 7026

The Public Safety bill under SB 7026 went into effect on March 9th, 2018. The act is titled the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act” in honor of the victims of the 2018 mass shooting. Under the bill, it prohibits an individual who has been adjudicated mentally defective or had been committed to a mental institution from owning or possessing a firearm until certain requirements are met.

In addition, a new section under Florida Statute Section 790.065 added subsection 13 to read that any person younger than 21 years-old is not eligible to purchase a firearm. It is unlawful for a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer to sell a firearm to a person below the age of 21. Any person who violates this subsection can be charged with a third-degree felony. In Florida, a third-degree felony has penalties of up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

The NRA’s Challenge to the Law

After the bill passed, there was almost an immediate response from the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA claimed that the new age restriction of 21 is a violation of the 2nd and 14th Amendments. The organization filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Florida as a response.

According to the NRA’s argument, individuals who are 18 years-old are considered adults “for almost all purposes and certainly for the purposes of the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights.”

U.S. Appeals Court Upholds Florida Law

On March 9th, 2023, the U.S. appeals court upheld the Florida law which bans those under 21 from purchasing a gun. The decision came down to a unanimous three-judge panel with the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. According to the report, they found that the law was in line with the nation’s gun regulations—which now meets the new standard set by the Supreme Court in June 2022.

This is the second time the law has been upheld— in 2021 the law was upheld by a federal trial judge.. The 11th Circuit Court pointed out multiple state laws from the 19th century which also barred people under 21 from purchasing a firearm. According to Judge Robin Rosenbaum, who wrote the ruling, while the laws did not go back to the nation’s founding, it is still relevant.

Now that the law has been upheld, the Florida Legislation on gun purchasing will still prohibit those under 21 to purchase a firearm.

Mass Shootings in 2023

Only three months into the new year and the U.S. has already experienced over 100 mass shootings in 2023. According to the Gun Violence Archive, this is a record amount of time. A mass shooting is considered when four or more people are shot, excluding the person shooting.

In the last two years, the nation only surpassed 100 mass shootings in mid to late March, whereas this year’s happened at the very beginning of the month. Even as the rate of mass shootings continues to rise in the U.S., CNN reported that there has been little political movement in the divided Congress over gun safety regulation since last year’s bipartisan gun safety law.

As of March 7th, 2023, there were 105 reports of mass shootings that have taken place in the United States. According to the Swiss-based Small Arms Survey, there is no other country that has more guns than people. From their survey, they found that there are about 120 guns for every 100 American citizens.

As a result, the U.S. has more gun-related deaths than any other developed country per-capita. Our nation’s rate of gun violence is eight times higher than Canada, 22 times higher than the European Union, and 23 times greater than Australia.

The following is a statement from UCLA Professor Mark S. Kaplan on the growing rate of gun violence:

“Although fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries are growing, no real legislative response has followed acts of gun violence in support of individuals or the communities in which they live. And there is scant proof that prevention measures, such as active shooter drills, have reduced actual harm…There are real solutions and tools—including bans on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines—available now that can make a difference, but only if our elected officials act to implement them.”

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

As gun regulations continue to be discussed and changed in both the State and Federal government, it is important to know and understand how your right to carry a firearm intersects with criminal law. If you or someone you know is charged with a gun-related offense, you should reach out to a skilled Florida gun defense attorney in your area. Gun-related offenses hold additional punishments and are treated seriously by the state.

Don Pumphrey and his team of attorneys have years of experience representing Florida citizens for various criminal offenses. Our goal is to lighten the stress from navigating the legal landscape, and to ensure none of your rights are violated in the process. To receive a free consultation regarding your situation, contact Pumphrey Law Firm at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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