Miami congresswoman breaks with party and votes to raise AR-15 purchase age to 21

The House of Representatives passes a bill to raise the legal age to buy AR-15s and one Republican representative from Miami votes for the bill to pass, breaking with most of the Republican party.

MIAMI, Fla. – The hot topic in the United States right now is gun violence and finding ways to reduce it.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill tightening gun safety regulations with Democrats generally voting in favor and Republicans voting against.

But one South Florida congresswoman was an outlier with her vote.

Maria Elvira Salazar, a freshman Republican and a conservative, was elected in 2020 to represent Miami’s 27th Congressional District, which is roughly Kendall to downtown Miami. It’s a swing district almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.

Voters sick and tired of gun violence are supporting stricter gun safety laws, like expanding background checks, limiting the size of magazines, and raising the age to buy a semi-automatic rifle from age 18 to 21.

The shooter in Uvalde and the one in Buffalo had just turned 18, had no history of mental illness and legally bought an AR 15-style assault rifle.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that raised the legal age to buy those types of weapons.

Voting in favor was Salazar without explaining why she broke from the majority of her party.

On Thursday, she turned down a Local 10 News request for an interview, instead issuing a statement.

“I fully support the 2nd amendment and will protect the constitutional rights of all Americans, while keeping our communities safe. Just like Florida acted after the Parkland shooting, we can improve community safety through reasonable actions like raising the purchase to 21 for automatic rifles...”

Although she voted to raise the minimum age to buy an assault rifle, she voted against a ban on large capacity magazines and no on a ban for so-called “ghost guns.”

State Senator Annette Taddeo, who pulled out of the gubernatorial race where she would have challenged Salazar said: “Salazar sided with the NRA and voted against sensible gun laws. It’s abundantly clear that Congresswoman Elvira Salazar cannot be trusted to protect our children.”

She also declined an invitation to appear on Local 10 News’ “This Week in South Florida” to explain her vote to raise the age to 21. But it’s pretty clear that she sees which way the winds are blowing in her district and they’re against gun violence.


About the Author:

Michael Putney came to Local 10 in 1989 to become senior political reporter and host of "This Week In South Florida with Michael Putney." He is Local 10's senior political reporter.