A federal judge ruled two 19-year-old teens, who joined a National Rifle Association (NRA) lawsuit against Florida’s new gun control restrictions, cannot remain anonymous.
The teens are currently referred in the suit as John Doe and Jane Doe, but on Sunday, Judge Mark Walker ruled that the NRA has one week to add their real names or remove them from the suit.
According to NPR, the NRA sought to keep the 19-year-old’s anonymous because of the inevitable hatred that would come their way if they revealed their identities.
“Just as in Roe v. Wade, individuals should be able to vindicate the Second Amendment without having to expose themselves to harassment and bullying,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker told NPR.
Although Walker ruled against the NRA’s wishes, it wasn’t a decision he took lightly and had it been up to him personally and not the law, the outcome would have been different.
“If it were entirely up to this Court, this Court would not hesitate to grant the NRA’s motion,” he wrote.
Walker pointed to the harassment the Parkland shooting survivors have endured as proof of the vitriol Second Amendment discussions breeds, which he “has no doubt” goes both ways.
However, since the teens aren’t underage and there’s no extremely personal information involved, he’s bound by precedent, which dictates pseudonyms can only be used in “exceptional” cases.
In his ruling, Walker acknowledged that the internet “just doesn’t always bring out the best in us” and surmised that it may be time to change the law regarding anonymous lawsuits.
Marion Hammer, a former president of the NRA, told the Sun-Sentinel that it’s too soon to say what steps the organization is going to take and that the organization is “very disappointed” in Walker’s ruling.
The lawsuit seeks to block a new gun law in Florida that raises the minimum age requirement to purchase a firearm from 18 years old to 21 years old.