May 06, 2023
A Florida measure that would have rolled back the law restricting adults aged 18 to 20 from purchasing long guns and that was being strongly backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis met an untimely death when the session ended on March 5.
DeSantis, a Iraq War veteran, had said the restriction on adults who can legally do most other things older adults can do is “unconstitutional.”
"If we're going to say as a society that the age of adulthood is 21 then that would be one thing,” DeSantis said in response to a question asked at a May 3 press conference. “But it's not. I mean, you send people out when they're 18, they can vote when they're 18. And so, it's a constitutionally protected freedom, I don't think that there's basis to say that you can just blanket exclude people arbitrarily."
While known as a supporter of the Second Amendment, DeSantis also relied on his military experience in Iraq to convince him that the current law is unjust.
"Look, I was in Iraq,” he said. “I was there with 18-year-old Marines, 18-year-old soldiers that were put out in the streets of Fallujah and Rhimadi and told they had to risk their lives for this country. Then they come back after doing that, and even though they were carrying a firearm the whole time, they're told you cannot exercise your Second Amendment rights here as an adult and as a veteran?"
At the time the law was passed and signed by Gov. Rick Scott, President Donald Trump endorsed the under 21 gun ban, along with other bad restrictions in the bill, which also included a rapid-fire device ban and so-called “red-flag” law. Of course, Trump is one of the candidates opposing DeSantis in the 2024 presidential election.
While the pro-freedom organization Gun Owners of America (GOA) was frustrated to see the measure be left unpassed as the session ended, GOA Florida State Director Luis Valdes said the organization appreciates the governor’s support on the matter.
“The governor, unlike a number of his fellow Florida Republicans, understands what the Second Amendment means,” Valdes said. “He supports legalizing Open Carry in Florida, he supports ‘permitless’ carry, and he was against the Parkland gun control bill (under 21 purchase ban, mandatory waiting periods and red flag laws) that was passed by a number of Republicans still holding office in the State Legislature.”
Valdes said the bill’s death can be directly attributed to Republican Senate President Kathleen Passidomo.
“She has publicly stated that she's against legalizing open carry and against repealing the under 21 purchase ban,” he said. “Prior to this legislative session , she was even against ‘permitless’ carry, too.
“In fact, as a Republican, she was a guest speaker for a Democrat event in southwest Florida back in 2019 and told the Democrats that an assault weapons ban would have passed in the Republican-controlled legislature if it weren't for gun owners across the state making it a political issue.”
Valdes said that in the end, it takes all pro-gun legislators plus the governor working together to protect the right to keep and bear arms in the Sunshine State.
“The governor, while supportive of such legislation, can't wave a magic wand to get it passed,” Valdes said. “The fault lies at the Republican supermajority-controlled legislature. Those Republican lawmakers who campaign on being pro-gun, they once again proved they really aren't because they didn't stand up to Senate President Passidomo and fight for their constituency's Second Amendment rights.”
About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for over 20 years.
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