The National Rifle Association and Florida officials will avoid mediation in a lawsuit challenging a 2018 state law that prevents people under age 21 from purchasing firearms, under an order issued this week by a federal judge.
The age restriction was included in a law passed in response to the Feb. 14, 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Nikolas Cruz, who was 19 at the time of the shooting, is accused of killing 14 students and three faculty members with a semi-automatic weapon at his former school.
The law raised the age from 18 to 21 to purchase “long guns,” such as rifles and shotguns. Federal law already banned licensed firearms dealers from selling handguns to people under 21, and the state law broadened that to also prevent private sales of handguns to people under 21, according to court documents.
The NRA challenged the law, alleging that the age restriction is an unconstitutional violation of people’s Second Amendment rights to “purchase firearms to defend themselves, their families, and their homes.”
Lawyers for Attorney General Ashley Moody argue that the law doesn’t violate the Second Amendment because, while people between 18 and 21 cannot purchase guns, they may still “keep and use” firearms “for any lawful purpose.”
Lawyers for Moody and the NRA filed a joint motion last week asking U.S. District Judge Mark Walker to allow them to sidestep court-ordered mediation, saying the process “would be fruitless.” The two sides’ positions “are not reconcilable, and no middle ground exists between them,” lawyers wrote in a joint motion “to abrogate” the mediation requirement.
“Accordingly, the issues involved in this case are not amenable to mediation. Mediation would not be a productive exercise, nor would it be a worthwhile use of the parties’, or the court’s, resources,” the lawyers wrote.
In Monday’s order granting the request, Walker wrote “this court finds good cause has been shown why the mediation requirement should be waived.”