Sunday 19 August 2018

NRA sues Florida after state passes gun control law

Florida Governor Rick Scott. Photo: Reuters
Florida Governor Rick Scott. Photo: Reuters

Gerry Shih

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is suing Florida after it passed a gun control law in the wake of a school shooting that left 17 people dead.

Governor Rick Scott, a staunch ally of the gun lobby, defied his longtime allies and enacted the bill, which the NRA says violates the constitution.

The law raises the legal age for buying rifles in Florida, but also allows the training and arming of school staff. It does not ban semi-automatic rifles like the one used in the February 14 massacre at the high school in Parkland.

But it does introduce a three-day waiting period on all gun sales and a ban on bump stocks, a device that enables semi-automatic rifles to fire hundreds of rounds a minute.

One of the NRA's arguments is that the legislation violates the rights of young women as they are unlikely to commit violent crime.

An NRA spokesman said the bill "punishes law-abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual".

He added: "Preventing a responsible 20-year-old from purchasing the best tool for self-defence will not stop a deranged criminal intent on committing a crime."

The legal action says the Florida legislation particularly affects young women.

"Females between the ages of 18 and 21 pose a relatively slight risk of perpetrating a school shooting... or, for that matter, a violent crime of any kind," says the lawsuit.

It also argues that men aged between 21 and 24, just outside the new age limit, account for more violent crime arrests than men aged between 18 and 21.

The bill's passage by a Republican-controlled legislature in a state where the NRA wields considerable influence is seen as a testament to an impassioned pro-gun control campaign launched by young survivors of the shooting and parents of the victims.

Sunday Independent

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