Rifle AR-15 Source: Unsplash

Two Contentious Gun-Related Bills In Florida Head To Full House

Rifle AR-15 Source: Unsplash
Rifle AR-15 Source: Unsplash

Two contentious gun-related bills are set to be debated by the full Florida House, but the state Senate has yet to take them up.

The Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee voted 15-6 on Wednesday to pass HB 1223, which would reduce the minimum age to purchase rifles and other long guns from 21 to 18.

The bill would reverse part of the law that increased the minimum age to 21 after the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Bill sponsor Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, said the Legislature since 2018 has taken strong steps to improve school safety and that the age restriction might violate federal constitutional rights.

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“We’ve improved the opportunity for more mental health counseling (in schools),” Payne said. “With that, the state of Florida should match up with 43 other states that allow the purchase of a long gun in their state at the age of 18 and still restrict it at 21 for a handgun.”

Federal law bars sales of handguns to people under 21.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, has called the bill a “non-starter” in the Senate.

The House Judiciary Committee also voted 13-7 to approve a bill (HB 17) that would seek to prevent a waiting period for background checks on gun purchases from taking longer than three days.

Rep. LaVon Bracy Davis, D-Ocoee, raised concerns about what would happen if the Florida Department of Law Enforcement doesn’t complete background checks within three days and people take possession of guns.

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“What concerns me about this bill is what happens when someone gets the firearm and the background check hasn’t come back. And then they find out they shouldn’t have a firearm,” she said. “Does that mean police or sheriff or law enforcement now go and they have to retrieve that firearm?”

A Senate version (SB 1124) of the bill has not been heard in committees.

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