Florida’s New Gun Law & Constitutional Concerns
Following the new law tightening gun restrictions that Florida’s governor recently signed into law, on May 14th, a federal judge in Florida decided something that some believe violates individuals’ ability to protect the Second Amendment. Specifically, the judge decided that the National Rifle Association (NRA) cannot use pseudonyms in place of actual names of teenagers who want to join legal challenges against the new gun laws in Florida, regardless of the harassment they might face as a result of making their names public.
The litigation has been filed in response to a new law signed into effect that places additional restrictions on gun ownership in Florida, which is discussed in more detail below.
New Legal Restrictions
Florida’s new gun restriction law does the following:
- Raises the legal age for gun purchases to 21;
- Puts a three-day waiting period in place (with exceptions for the purchase of guns bought by active duty military members, correctional officers, law enforcement officers, and all members of the Florida National Guard and United States Reserve Forces);
- Allows for school personnel to be armed (as long as they are not full-time teachers);
- Creates “risk protection orders,” which allow a court to prohibit a mentally ill or violent individual from possessing or purchasing a firearm or other weapon via court order;
- Allows law officers to petition courts to have individuals they fear could be a danger to themselves or others surrender their firearm and/or prevent them from possessing or purchasing firearms in the future;
- Allows law enforcement to seize firearms when someone has been detailed under Florida’s Baker Act;
The legislation was passed in response to the February Parkland, Florida shooting, which left many dead and injured. In March, a Fort Lauderdale grand jury indicted 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, the suspect charged with 17 counts of attempted and first-degree murder in connection with the tragedy. If he is convicted of first-degree murder, prosecutors could seek the death penalty in his case.
NRA Alleges New Law Violates Constitutional Rights of Anyone under Age 21
In its recent lawsuit, the NRA is specifically challenging the age limit imposed, specifically, arguing that 18-year-olds have the constitutional right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. The NRA used placeholders, including “Jane” and “John Doe” to represent 19-year-olds who reportedly want to own guns but now cannot under the new state gun law.
Although the judge expressed sympathy for the young plaintiffs and the chance that they could experience serious harassment as a result of being named on the complaint, he also indicated that legal precedent mandates that pseudonyms can only be used in “exceptional” cases. This usually covers younger children or lawsuits that involve extremely personal information.
Florida Constitutional/Civil Rights Lawyer
If any of your constitutional rights have been violated—whether that involves discrimination, your right to remain silent, your right to counsel, wrongful conviction, second amendment rights, etc.—contact us at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how our Orlando civil rights attorneys can help.