Four Florida Republicans Attempt to Prevent GOP from Reducing Gun Purchase Age

Several Florida Republicans made an attempt to block a measure led by the GOP that aimed to reduce the minimum age to purchase a firearm in the state to 18.

On Friday, Florida’s Republican-led House of Representatives voted in favor of a legislation introduced by Republican Representative Bobby Payne. This legislation aims to lower the minimum age for purchasing firearms in the state from 21 to 18.

Four Republican Representatives, namely Linda Chaney, Chip LaMarca, Vicki Lopez, and Cyndi Stevenson, opposed the legislation, House Bill (HB) 1223.

The bill’s text, titled “Minimum Age for Firearm Purchase or Transfer,” states its purpose as reducing the minimum age at which individuals can purchase firearms and lowering the age restriction for certain licensees who are prohibited from selling or transferring firearms. The bill also includes the repeal of a specific exception. The effective date of this proposed legislation is provided as well.

During an interview with Newsweek on Friday, Lopez revealed that she had opposed the legislation in the previous year.

“I have a strong inclination towards analyzing data, and various reports have consistently indicated that individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 face a significantly higher risk of being involved in gun-related homicides,” shared Lopez with Newsweek. “As a responsible gun owner myself, I fully comprehend the gravity of owning a firearm and take this responsibility incredibly seriously.”

According to Lopez, individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 appear to be more susceptible to engaging in acts of homicide compared to any other age group.

According to Representative Stevenson, there is a well-established understanding that young individuals under the age of 21 face heightened risks of both suicide and gun violence.

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“I don’t see any practical advantage or justification for reducing the minimum age to purchase a firearm in Florida from 21 to 18. Instead, I see potential risks that could have severe consequences. These risks include the increased likelihood of innocent individuals getting hurt or losing their lives, as well as the potential for young people’s lives to be ruined. Such risks are simply unacceptable to me,” Stevenson expressed to Newsweek.

In the midst of ongoing debates surrounding gun control in the United States, the legislation was passed on Friday. This development coincides with President Joe Biden’s initiative to address gun violence by establishing the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention in September. The passing of this legislation signifies a concerted effort to curb gun violence in the country.

During the announcement of the new office, Biden emphasized the consistent message he has received from families affected by gun violence. He mentioned that every time he has met with these families, they have urged their elected officials to “do something.” The President stated that he will continue to advocate for Congress to take common-sense measures that enjoy the support of the majority of Americans, such as implementing universal background checks and prohibiting assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The decision to establish a minimum age of 21 for purchasing firearms originated in response to the tragic incident that occurred on February 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. During this event, 19-year-old shooter Nikolas Cruz took the lives of 17 individuals and caused injuries to 17 others, resulting in the deadliest high school mass shooting ever witnessed in the United States. Consequently, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act was enacted as a response to this tragedy. However, with the recent passage of the bill, a provision of this act has now been repealed.

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According to ABC News, there was an earlier effort in the Florida House to reduce the minimum age for purchasing firearms. House Speaker Paul Renner supported the proposal, stating that it aimed to allow young adults to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

According to a map provided by the Ammunition Depot, the majority of U.S. states permit individuals who are 18 years and older to purchase handguns. However, certain states like New York, California, and Washington have set the minimum age for handgun purchase at 21.

“I’m not concerned about the safety of our schools in Florida,” Payne reassured during an interview with Florida’s Voice News. He emphasized, “My primary concern lies with the well-being of my own children, grandchildren, and all the children who are unable to protect themselves.”

Payne was contacted by Newsweek via email on Friday to solicit a comment.

The bill must pass through the Florida state Senate before it can be signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, as reported by Florida’s Voice News.

Reference article

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