In Florida minors could be jailed for posting photos of BB guns

by WorldTribune Staff, March 18, 2019

A Democratic lawmaker has introduced a bill in the Florida legislature that would make it a crime for minors to post photos of guns on social media.

It would be illegal for minors to post photos of BB guns on social media under a Florida state senator’s proposed bill.

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Jason W. B. Pizzo, states that anyone younger than 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 commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable” by a fine of $1,000 or up to a year in jail.

Reason magazine noted that Pizzo’s bill is “an obvious First Amendment violation” in that it does not limit photo posts to displays that constitute true threats of violence (there’s a First Amendment exception for such true threats), or possession of guns by minors in violation of state law. Under the bill, it would be a crime for minors to post photos of themselves lawfully using a gun at a shooting range.

It would also be a crime to post “a picture of a firearm” as part of a pro-gun-rights – or anti-gun-rights – political post, Reason noted.

“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,” Reason said.

Pizzo’s bill also states: “Any parent or guardian of a minor, or other adult responsible for the welfare of a minor, if the minor possesses a firearm in violation of this section, may, if the court finds it appropriate, 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 also states: “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.”

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