NRA v. Swearingen: Defending Florida’s Gun Safety Progress From the NRA
Case Information: Nat’l Rifle Ass’n v. Swearingen, No. 18-CV-00137 (N.D. Fla. amicus brief filed Jan. 23, 2020).
At Issue: In response to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the Florida Legislature passed a bipartisan Act to address the crisis of gun violence in the state: the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. Among other things, this act generally prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing a firearm. Hours after Governor Rick Scott signed the act into law, the NRA filed a lawsuit claiming that the age restriction violates the Second Amendment. Giffords Law Center recently filed an amicus brief in defense of the law, joined by Brady, Team ENOUGH, March for our Lives Action Fund and Orange Ribbons for Gun Safety—a nonprofit gun safety organization founded by Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg, who was killed at Parkland.
Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our brief argues that Florida’s lifesaving minimum age law does not affect conduct protected by the Second Amendment, as it lets responsible minors possess firearms if, for example, a parent purchases it for them. We then argue that even if the court finds that the law does affect some protected conduct, at most, the court should apply intermediate scrutiny to evaluate the law’s constitutionality. In the Second Amendment context, a court must uphold laws under intermediate scrutiny if it is “substantially related to an important governmental objective.” To illustrate how this law is closely related to the critical governmental objective of protecting public safety, our brief summarizes neuroscience and social science research showing the grave public safety risks posed by allowing 18-to-20-year-olds easy access to guns, including the risk to young people who are disproportionately likely to be the victims of gun violence. Notably, we highlight compelling research that has found a connection between age restrictions for firearm purchases and declines in firearm-related adolescent deaths.