NRA files federal lawsuit challenging Florida gun-safety bill

(Reuters) - Florida Governor Rick Scott, a staunch ally of the National Rifle Association (NRA), signed into law on Friday a bill imposing a 21-year-old legal age requirement and three-day waiting period on all gun purchases and allowing the arming of some school employees.

Within hours, the NRA filed a court challenge to provisions raising the legal age for buying a rifle or shotgun, asserting that the higher requirement - consistent with the minimum age nationally for handgun purchases - violates the U.S. Constitution.

Final passage of the bill by state lawmakers came three weeks to the day after a gunman opened fire with a semiautomatic assault-style rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public in Parkland, Florida, killing 14 students and three faculty members.

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The National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun rights supporters
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The National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun rights supporters
A gun rights demonstrator armed with a rifle walks past a sign memorializing the children and teachers killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, as protesters aligned with the Women's March hold a rally against the National Rifle Association at NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, U.S. July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters listen to U.S. President Donald Trump deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Supporters wait for U.S. President Donald Trump to deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters wait for U.S. President Donald Trump to deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Onlookers, including a man wearing a National Rifle Association (NRA) t-shirt, watch as a 95-by-50-foot American flag is unfurled on the side of an apartment complex, a replica of the "The Great Flag" that was spun, woven, dyed, constructed and displayed on the same building by Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in 1914, in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
NRA Executive Director Chris Cox (L) and Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre (R) welcome U.S. President Donald Trump (C) onstage to deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
File Photo: NRA gun enthusiasts view Sig Sauer rifles at the National Rifle Association's annual meetings & exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. on May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Gun enthusiasts look over Smith & Wesson guns at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II/File Photo
James Bell from Nashville, TN, look over rifle scopes from Burris Riflescope at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II/File Photo
Gun enthusiasts poses for a picture with an FN MK 48 machine gun and a MK 19 grenade launcher at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings & exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Gun enthusiasts look over guns at FN America firearms at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Gun instructor Robert Allen (L) works with Eathan Hawkins (8) at the air gun range at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Indiana Governor Mike Pence addresses members of the National Rifle Association during their NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at their annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 20, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Attendees recite the pledge of allegiance before the National Rifle Association's NRA-ILA Leadership Forum during their annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 20, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Attendees visit the trade booths during the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Attendees visit the trade booths during the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Activists hold a protest and vigil against gun violence on the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, outside the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia December 14, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Brendan Walsh looks at a rifle scope in the trade booths showroom during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 12, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Fans wait in line to meet musician and supporter of the NRA, Ted Nugent, who was signing autographs during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 12, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Musician and supporter of the NRA, Ted Nugent, signs autographs during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 12, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Dave Verner looks at pistols and scopes in the trade booth area during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 11, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Brett Throckmorten of Barnes Bullets shows Logan Wingo how to sight down an electronic rifle in the trade booth area during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, April 11, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
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Swift action in the Republican-controlled statehouse, where the powerful NRA gun lobbying organization has long held sway, was propelled in large part by an extraordinary counter-lobbying campaign waged by young survivors from the massacre and parents of the victims.

The Parkland massacre and response to it by Florida lawmakers signaled a possible turning point in the national debate between advocates for tougher firearms restrictions and proponents of the right to bear arms as enshrined in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Gun control supporters said the tragedy - the deadliest U.S. high school shooting ever - has given new momentum to firearms-safety measures pending in at least two dozen states, many in solidly conservative parts of the nation.

"Today should serve as an example to the entire country that government can and must move fast," Scott said in remarks before the signing, surrounded by survivors of the shooting and their families.

One of them, Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was among those killed, hailed the bill as "a start."

"We're going to work on moving forward and hitting every other state to make sure they follow the lead of Florida," he told reporters.

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List of companies cutting ties with the NRA
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List of companies cutting ties with the NRA
Delta

(studioportosabbia via Getty Images)
United Airlines

(superjoseph via Getty Images)

Hertz

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Avis Budget Group Inc.

(Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

TrueCar

(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Metlife

(Photo by Robert Caplin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Enterprise

(REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)

@enamoredgirl Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA. As a result, First National… https://t.co/uPKwPFMHxo
Allied Van Lines no longer has an affiliate relationship with the NRA effective immediately. We have asked them to… https://t.co/IQlB6e4gzi
northAmerican Van Lines no longer has an affiliate relationship with the NRA effective immediately. We have asked t… https://t.co/VLJCWSldAm
Symantec has stopped its discount program with the National Rifle Association.
@grafinator @NRA Best Western Hotels & Resorts does not have any affiliation with and is not a corporate partner of… https://t.co/eMnkiPN3YW
@iainjgrant Please know, Wyndham is no longer affiliated with the NRA.
Thank you all for your feedback. Paramount Rx issued the statement below. “The prescription discount program that… https://t.co/ZFpIwKlpej
We have made the decision not to renew our discount program with the NRA. We will be asking them to remove our info… https://t.co/4eqO3kUR1W

Chubb Insurance

(Photo credit: Facebook)

Teladoc

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SimpliSafe

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Scott, a Republican who received the NRA's endorsement as governor and its highest rating for supporting the rights of gun owners, said the bill represented a compromise balancing concerns on both sides of the gun debate.

The NRA's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, said that barring adults under the age of 21 from buying rifles was unconstitutional, violating both the Second Amendment and Americans' 14th Amendment rights to equal protection under the law.

A statement issued earlier by the NRA had derided the higher minimum age and new waiting period for rifle sales as a prescription that "punishes law-abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual."

Still, other states appeared ready to follow Florida's lead on at least some new gun-safety measures.

Five states - Alabama, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Utah - have seen so-called "red flag" bills introduced since the Florida massacre to make it easier for police to confiscate weapons from someone found to pose a threat of violent behavior, according to Kristin Brown, co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Such a provision was included in the Florida package enacted on Friday.

The legislation, while containing a number of other provisions student activists and their parents from Parkland had embraced, left out one of their chief demands - a ban on assault-style weapons like the one used in the Feb. 14 rampage.

 

ARMING SCHOOL PERSONNEL

The bill also was controversial for including provisions allowing school staff to be specially trained and deputized to carry guns on the job as campus "guardians," though local sheriffs and individual school districts may opt out of the program if they wish.

Most classroom teachers are excluded from volunteering for the program, a compromise aimed at earning the support of the governor, and many lawmakers, who opposed the idea.

"My daughter is a teacher, and I believe teachers should teach," governor said. The bill left only non-teacher staff eligible to participate, such as administrators, guidance counselors, librarians and coaches.

Florida now joins at least six other states - Georgia, Kansas, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming - with laws allowing public school employees to carry firearms to work, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

President Donald Trump has voiced support for the idea, also espoused by the NRA.

Critics have said arming school staff only heightens the risks of gun violence, and poses a particular risk to minority students, who they said were more likely to be shot in the heat of a disciplinary situation or if mistaken as an intruder.

Scott said he remained dissatisfied with the guardian provisions but signed the bill nonetheless, saying it would enhance school safety overall.

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NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch
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NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch
This blowout has lasted for three days. 🙌
Dana Loesch, spokesperson for the National Rifle Association (NRA), speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. The list of speakers at CPAC that opens today includes two European nativists who will address the gathering between panels and events on the dangers of immigration, Sharia law and lawless government agencies. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 22: Dana Loesch, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort in Oxon Hill, Md., on February 22, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch answers a question while sitting next to Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, left, during a CNN town hall meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Fla. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Coming up on Fox. Thank you to @silkandstonedesigns who saw my accidental giant hoop story and rescued me with these!!
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"I am glad, however, that the plan in this bill is not mandatory, which means it will be up to locally elected officials," Scott said.

Besides his objections to arming teachers, Scott was on record as being opposed to extending Florida's existing three-day waiting period for handgun sales to purchases of all firearms, as the new law now does.

The measure also raises the legal age for all gun purchases to 21. The minimum age for handguns nationally is 21, but a person as young as 18 previously could buy a rifle in Florida.

Nikolas Cruz, the accused gunman charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the Parkland shooting, was 18 years old when he legally purchased the AR-15 assault-style rifle used in the massacre, according to authorities.

Cruz, now 19, had a history of mental issues, numerous encounters with police and was expelled from Stoneman Douglas last year for disciplinary problems, according to authorities.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Steve Gorman; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown)

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