Florida falls in line with NRA again

Cox NewspapersSeptember 8, 2013 

Apparently, we don't have enough guns in Florida.

Particularly among the 18- to 20-year-olds, who have been prohibited from buying handguns and handgun ammunition from federally licensed firearms dealers for the past 45 years.

So last week, Florida joined forces with its corporate daddy, the National Rifle Association, to challenge the federal law that has been hampering the spread of weapons among this group.

Three years ago, the NRA sued the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Lubbock, Texas, over federal regulations that limit the sale of handguns to people under the age of 21. The NRA argued that denying licensed firearms dealers the opportunity to sell handguns to 18- to 20-year-olds was an unconstitutional restriction of those teenagers' Second Amendment rights.

The regulations were put in place as part of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and later supplemented by Congress in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

The rationale for prohibiting federally licensed gun dealers to sell handguns to 18- to 20-year-olds was the relationship between crime and the access of guns to people in that age group.

The NRA lost its case in Lubbock, and after appealing to a three-judge panel in North Texas, the gun group lost again.

"Overall, the government has marshaled evidence showing that Congress was focused on a particular problem: young persons under 21, who are immature and prone to violence, easily accessing handguns, which facilitate violent crime, primarily by way of FFLs (federal firearms licensees)," the federal appeals court judges wrote.

The judges cited Uniform Crime Reports statistics for one year showing that the most frequent age of arrest for murder was 18 and the second most frequent age was 19. And that 24 percent of all gun homicides are committed by people between the ages of 18 and 20.

The NRA has pressed on with its lawsuit by filing an appeal to the U.S Supreme Court, and enlisting its sycophant states to join the posse. So Florida Attorney Gen. Pam Bondi has fallen in step, signing on with 21 other states in the parade.

It's just a show of loyalty at this point. Because in Florida, 18- to 20-year-olds can easily buy handguns legally due to the loopholes already drilled into gun laws.

If you sell three cars a year in Florida, you have to get a license as a car dealer. But there's no limit on the number of guns a person can sell before he or she is required to get a license as a firearms dealer.

So the regulations for federally licensed firearms dealers are easily sidestepped by "private sellers" legally peddling handguns and ammunition to 18-year-olds at gun shows or online, as long as the sale doesn't cross state lines.

The federal regulations that were intended to shut down gun sales to "immature and prone to violence" teenagers have already been circumvented. What's really at stake now is not whether to open up gun sales to teenagers, but whether to make that process even easier by removing the last flimsy barrier in place.

In other news, Corey Graham Jr., a former football star at Glades Central High School, got sentenced to life in prison last week for shooting and killing Belle Glade grocer Jimmy McMillan during a store robbery.

Graham, who had graduated high school and enrolled in college, had no criminal history on the morning he walked into McMillan's store and held a handgun up to the grocer's head. When McMillan reached for the gun, Graham fired a single shot.

At the time, Graham was 19 years old.

Frank Cerabino, writes for The Palm Beach Post. E-mail: frank_cerabino@pbpost.com.

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