On Friday, the National Rifle Association announced plans to sue the state of Florida just hours after Governor Rick Scott signed legislation placing new restrictions on guns in response to the recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people. The gun group says that one of the bill’s provisions — one that raises the age to buy firearms to 21 — “eviscerates” the gun rights of young adults.
The NRA on Friday filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Florida contending that the new Florida law violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. The Second Amendment is the right to bear arms, and the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal protection.
“Swift action is needed to prevent young adults in Florida from being treated as second-class citizens when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms,” said Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, in a statement. “We are confident that the courts will vindicate our view that Florida’s ban is a blatant violation of the Second Amendment.”
The NRA’s complaint argues that the bill is particularly offensive to women under the age of 21, who are “much less likely to engage in violent crime than older members of the general population who are unaffected by the ban.” (Women of all ages are disproportionately victims of gun violence in domestic abuse; according to the Huffington Post, 80 percent of people killed by intimate partners in the US are women; 53 percent of those murders involve a fatal gunshot.)
The Florida bill includes new gun control measures — but also opens the door for arming some school employees
The NRA filed the lawsuit just hours after Florida Governor Scott, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 7026 into law. “Every student in Florida has the right to learn in a safe environment, and every parent has the right to send their kids to school knowing that they will return safely at the end of the day,” Scott said on Friday. “Today, I am signing bipartisan legislation that helps us achieve that.”
Beyond raising the age to buy firearms to 21, the legislation imposes a three-day waiting period on most firearms, bans bump stocks, and allows police to petition in court for a risk protection order, which would let authorities restrict gun and ammunition possession for those considered a danger to themselves for others. The bill does not include an assault weapons ban.
As Vox’s Jen Kirby points out, the bill also includes a controversial provision to allow certain school employees to carry guns as part of new school security measures. School districts can participate in “school guardianship” programs that train and arm school employees.
The NRA’s lawsuit names Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Rick Swearingen, commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, as defendants. Bondi, a Republican, said in a statement she is proud of the law. “This bill is not perfect, and sadly it will not bring back the 17 lives lost in the horrific school shooting, but the safety of our children is not a political issue — it’s simply the right thing to do,” she said.
Cameron Kasky, one of the survivors of the February 14 Parkland shooting, said in a tweet that the Florida bill was only the first step.