The National Rifle Association is appealing a federal judge’s decision barring two 19-year-old gun enthusiasts from using pseudonyms as a way to avoid public scrutiny in a lawsuit over Florida’s new age requirements for firearms purchases.
The gun lobbying group and Pam Bondi, Florida’s attorney general, asked a judge on Friday to put the NRA’s lawsuit against the state on hold until the federal appeals court in Atlanta decides whether the teens can remain anonymous.
“The parties both recognize that complying with this court’s May 13 order and identifying Jane and John Doe would effectively moot plaintiff’s pending appeal,” the NRA and Florida said in a joint filing.
The NRA sued after the state’s Republican-led legislature raised the age for buying guns to 21 from 18 in response to the Feb. 14 massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, where 17 died.
The gun lobby’s fight over the Florida law escalated just as another deadly shooting unfolded in the U.S., this time at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, where 10 people died and another 10 were injured on Friday.
In the Florida suit, the NRA seeks to let the teens participate anonymously because some NRA workers received threats after the Parkland attack.
The state argued that the pair wanted protection usually reserved for plaintiffs in extreme circumstances — such as children who’ve been abused by clergy, or adults who must hide their sexual orientation for safety reasons.
On May 13, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee ruled in favor of the state, saying the case doesn’t involve matters of “utmost intimacy.” But Walker said he “would not hesitate” to grant the NRA’s request if he weren’t bound by precedent, adding that he has “no doubt that the harassment goes both ways.”
The NRA claims the new law violates the Second Amendment rights of citizens ages 18 to 20, while gun-control advocates say people who can’t buy alcohol shouldn’t be allowed to buy an AR-15, a semiautomatic rifle similar to the one used in the Parkland shooting and a number of other mass shootings in recent years, although not in the latest Texas incident.