A federal judge ruled in May that anonymous teenage plaintiffs helping to challenge Florida’s sweeping anti-gun law must identify themselves publicly, even as he acknowledged the order would probably expose them to intense leftist “vitriol” and “harassment.”
In what media reports indicated was “a surprising turn,” US District Judge Mark Walker even suggested that he personally wanted to side with the National Rifle Association (NRA), which wants to shield the young plaintiffs’ identities, but said his hands were ultimately tied by court precedent, the Washington Times reported.
“If it were entirely up to this court, the court would not hesitate to grant the NRA’s motion,” Walker wrote in his ruling. “One need only look to the harassment suffered by some of the Parkland shooting survivors to appreciate the vitriol that has infected public discourse about the Second Amendment. And this court has no doubt the harassment goes both ways.”
The NRA filed the lawsuit on Second Amendment grounds soon after Florida lawmakers approved gun legislation that would raise the age to buy guns to 21 years old. The age restriction is one part of a larger anti-gun bill signed by Gov. Rick Scott in the wake of the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead.
Citing the harassment of one of its top Florida officials who was subjected to threatening and profanity-laced emails and phone calls, attorneys for the NRA wanted to include a 19-year-old woman as a plaintiff in the lawsuit but wanted to keep her name confidential and instead identify her as “Jane Doe.”
The NRA also sought to include testimony from another 19-year-old man as well. The move was challenged by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.