Much to the horror of college students and curious teenagers across America, the law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from buying or possessing alcohol. Florida law is no exception. However, for some reason that transcends logic, Florida would still rather allow an 18-year-old to own an assault rifle than a beer. It seems obvious that this discrepancy warrants revising.
Nikolas Cruz bought one such weapon. A 19-year-old, with a history of mental illness and violent tendencies, purchased multiple weapons unchecked by the state. He used the AR-15 he legally purchased to murder 17 people and injure 17 more at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Just weeks after the shooting, Florida’s governor at the time, Rick Scott, signed into legislation Senate Bill 7026, commonly known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.
The comprehensive law imposed a 3-day waiting period for purchasing a firearm and banned its sale to people under 21. It felt like for once the legislature was responding to America’s school shooting epidemic, that it was moving to effect real change. They finally woke up and realized that their “thoughts and prayers” were not saving any lives.
Yet without fail, the National Rifle Association always steps in to interfere when they hear of any infringement upon their Second Amendment rights.
The NRA challenged the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act in court almost immediately after its signing. They argued that it was not the “least restrictive alternative to achieve a compelling government interest.”
However, attorneys for the state reminded the NRA in their recent filings that this law does not prohibit 18 to 20 year-olds from possessing a gun if they received it as a gift. They simply cannot buy one themselves, with little to no supervision from adults or other parties that are more qualified to determine their eligibility to own a firearm.
This aspect of the law addresses the issue of mentally ill or potentially violent individuals below the age of 21 being able to secretly purchase firearms and use them for the wrong intentions, as Cruz did in Parkland.
Additionally, scientific evidence shows that the adolescent brain is particularly susceptible to impulsive or risky behavior. Therefore, they are not fit to possess firearms; moreover, no 19-year-old needs an AR-15.
However, the NRA’s opposition has forced the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act to move slowly through the Florida court system since its inception in 2018. Both sides recently filed motions for summary judgment, but its future remains unknown.
The NRA’s interference with attempts to regulate guns is widespread, unrelenting and malicious. This political superpower seems to seek opportunities to overpower the voices of survivors.
This motive becomes clear when considering how the NRA’s current rhetoric contradicts its former spokeswoman, Dana Loesch, when she spoke at the 2018 Parkland Town Hall — within the same period that this law was written.
At this event, Loesch said that she didn’t ‘’believe that [Nikolas Cruz] should have ever been able to obtain a firearm.” This statement only reinforces the idea behind the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety act.
The law is set to go on trial in January 2021, nearly three years after its origin. At the moment, it is hard to tell whether public safety or profit is ultimately destined to win.
Protestors for gun reform at the March For Our Lives in 2018. Unmodified photo by Rhododendrites used under a Creative Commons License.(https://bit.ly/35VnWyb)
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