The National Rifle Association has sued to block a new gun control law in Florida just hours after Governor Rick Scott signed it. The pro-gun group said the law discriminates against young people, especially women.
The US state of Florida faces a federal lawsuit over the gun control law signed by the governor on Friday. The law raised the minimum age for buying a gun from 18 to 21, banned bump stocks, increased funding for mental health, and implemented other measures aimed at reducing gun violence.
The bill triggered an angry response from the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful gun-owners' group that spends millions in lobbying and donations to US lawmakers. The group said the law punishes "law-abiding gun owners" for the acts of deranged mass shooting criminals.
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Florida Governor Rick Scott, who is a Republican and an NRA member, approved the measure after state lawmakers narrowly backed the move earlier this week. Just hours later, however, the NRA sued to block the legislation, saying that the law discriminated against young people and young women in particular.
The law "totally eviscerates the right of law-abiding adults between the ages of 18 and 21 to keep and bear arms" the NRA said.
According to the organization, the bill was "particularly offensive with respect to young women, as women between the ages of 18 and 21 are much less likely to engage in violent crime than older members of the general population."
'You should be proud'
The new bill was spearheaded by young survivors of last month's school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which claimed 17 lives. Authorities arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz over the incident. Cruz was able to legally buy several guns despite having a history of mental illness and making public threats of violence.
While signing the bill on Friday, Scott said the gun reform "should serve as an example to the entire country that government can and must move fast."
"You helped change our state," he told the students attending the event. "You made a difference. You should be proud."
While accepting some of the students' demands, the lawmakers refused to outright ban semiautomatic rifles, like the AR-15 used in the Florida massacre. Gun control advocates have argued that the measure did not go far enough.
Still, the survivors of the Florida shooting welcomed the new legislation.
"Obviously, this is what we've been fighting for. It's nowhere near the long-term solution," said Chris Grady, a senior at the Parkland school targeted in the attack. "It's a baby step but a huge step at the same time. Florida hasn't passed any legislation like this in God knows how long."
dj/sms (AP, dpa)