If passed, a new Florida bill introduced in the state legislature would make it illegal for minors to post photos on social media of a firearm or any “device displayed to resemble” one.
According to Reason, the measure, introduced by Democratic State Sen. Jason W. B. Pizzo, institutes a fine of $1,000 or up to a year in jail for anyone under the age of 18 “who posts or publishes a picture of a firearm, a BB gun, an air or a gas-operated gun, or a device displayed to resemble a firearm to a social media page, post, profile, or account that is openly viewable to the public."
On top of that, the bill also levies punishment for the kid’s parents, stipulating that they may “be required to participate in classes on parent education which are approved by the Department of Juvenile Justice, upon the first conviction of the minor.”
“Upon any subsequent conviction of the minor, the court may, if the court finds it appropriate, require the parent to attend further parent education classes or render community service hours together with the child,” the bill goes on.
And, if possible, it gets even worse.
The bill also stipulates that “Any firearm that is possessed or used by a minor in violation of this section shall be promptly seized by a law enforcement officer and disposed of.”
Given that nothing in the bill limits photos to threatening or violent images, the most obvious reading of this bill indicates that Pizzo actually wants to jail kids for posting photos of them out hunting, target shooting, shooting BB guns, or even holding something that could be construed to look like a gun, regardless of whether the kid was actually using the firearm legally such as under adult supervision at a firing range. On top of that, parents would be required by the government to take parenting classes after the nanny state seizes their guns.
To any casual observer, the bill would mark a massive infringement on both First and Second Amendment rights by prohibiting photos of lawful activities with lawfully owned guns. Even beyond that, the measure seems vague and overly broad, extending beyond even photos of the kids themselves holding the gun. Reason notes:
So would a minor's posting "a picture of a firearm" (not even a photograph of himself holding a firearm) as part of a pro-gun-rights -- or anti-gun-rights -- political post. So, for that matter, would be a minor's posting a photo of soldiers holding guns. But even if the bill were somehow limited to the minor's posting of photographs of himself holding guns (or BB guns or other perfectly lawful guns), it would still be an unconstitutional content-based restriction on speech.
Florida has already come under criticism from gun rights groups for a law passed last year upping the gun-buying age to 21 for all firearms, including rifles that could previously have been purchased by anyone 18 or older.