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Federal judge rules government can’t bar adults 18-20 from buying handguns

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A federal judge in Virginia has declared that U.S. laws prohibiting individuals aged 18 to 20 from purchasing handguns at federally licensed firearms dealers are unconstitutional. The judge cited them as a violation of the Second Amendment.

While the Gun Control Act of 1968 permits individuals aged 18 and older to purchase shotguns and rifles, the sale of handguns has been restricted to individuals aged 21 and older. The case was brought forward by four men who challenged existing regulations from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that prevent adults between the ages of 18 and 20 from buying handguns.

In a decision issued on Wednesday, May 10, U.S. Senior District Judge Robert Payne referenced the recent Supreme Court decision from last June in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, which determined that the government must demonstrate that gun restrictions align with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. Payne noted that no federal appellate court or the Supreme Court has explicitly determined that the Second Amendment’s rights begin at age 21.

“Under the analytical framework established in Bruen, the government simply has not met its burden to support the finding that restrictions on the purchasing of firearms by 18-to-20-year-olds is part of our nation’s history and tradition,” Payne wrote.

The judge concluded that excluding this age group from the protection of the Second Amendment would impose limitations to the amendment that do not exist with other constitutional guarantees.

“The Second Amendment’s protections apply to 18-to-20-year-olds,” Payne wrote. “By adopting the Second Amendment, the people constrained both the hands of Congress and the courts to infringe upon this right by denying ordinary law-abiding citizens of this age the full enjoyment of the right to keep and bear arms unless the restriction is supported by the nation’s history. That is what Bruen tells us.”

Elliott M. Harding, an attorney for the plaintiffs, emphasized that their lawsuit aimed to “close a loophole” and prevent individuals under the age of 21 from obtaining handguns through unregulated private sales.

“Even though it ensures that future buyers can now purchase these firearms in the federal system, one that includes background checks and other requirements, we expect the defendants will appeal,” Harding said. “Nevertheless, we remain optimistic that the decision will be affirmed in due course.”

However, the ruling received criticism from Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. Janet Carter, the senior director of issues and appeals at Everytown Law, expressed concern that the court’s decision would put lives in danger and called for its reversal.

“The federal law prohibiting federally-licensed firearms dealers from selling handguns to individuals under the age of 21 is not just an essential tool for preventing gun violence, it is also entirely constitutional,” Carter said in a statement“The Court’s ruling will undoubtedly put lives at risk. It must be reversed.”

The Biden administration has shown a willingness to step in and attempt to preserve overturned gun restrictions following the Bruen decision, which resulted in a number of firearms regulations being knocked down in its wake. The White House recently appealed to the Supreme Court in the case of a 30-year-old law that prohibits gun ownership by individuals subject to a domestic violence restraining order, which was invalidated by a federal appeals court.

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A FEDERAL JUDGE IN VIRGINIA HAS RULED U-S LAWS PROHIBITING EIGHTEEN TO- TWENTY YEAR OLDS FROM OBTAINING HANDGUNS AT FEDERALLY LICENSED FIREARMS DEALERS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL, FINDING THEM TO BE A VIOLATION OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT.

 

THE GUN CONTROL ACT OF 1968 ALREADY ALLOWS INDIVIDUALS EIGHTEEN OR OLDER TO BUY SHOTGUNS AND RIFLES, HOWEVER, THE SALE OF HANDGUNS HAS BEEN RESTRICTED TO INDIVIDUALS 21 OR OLDER.  

 

THE CASE WAS BROUGHT BY FOUR MEN WHO CHALLENGED THE CURRENT LAW BARRING ADULTS AGES 18 TO 20 FROM BUYING HANDGUNS.

 

IN A DECISION ISSUED WEDNESDAY, U.S. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE ROBERT PAYNE CITED THE SUPREME COURT’S BRUEN DECISION SAYING THE GOVERNMENT MUST DEMONSTRATE THAT GUN RESTRICTIONS ARE CONSISTENT WITH THE NATION’S HISTORICAL TRADITION OF FIREARM REGULATION. 

 

PAYNE ADDED NO FEDERAL APPELLATE COURT OR THE SUPREME COURT QUOTE “HAS SQUARELY DETERMINED THAT THE SECOND AMENDMENT’S RIGHTS VEST AT AGE 21.” 

 

ULTIMATELY THE JUDGE CONCLUDED THAT IF THE COURT WERE TO EXCLUDE THIS AGE GROUP FROM THE SECOND AMENDMENT’S PROTECTION, IT WOULD IMPOSE LIMITATIONS ON THE SECOND AMENDMENT THAT DO NOT EXIST WITH OTHER CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES.

 

AN ATTORNEY FOR THE PLAINTIFFS POINTED OUT THAT ADULTS YOUNGER THAN TWENTY ONE CAN BUY HANDGUNS UNREGULATED  FROM PRIVATE SELLERS. 

 

MEANWHILE, THE RULING WAS MET WITH CRITICISM FROM EVERYTOWN LAW, THE LITIGATION ARM OF EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY SUPPORT FUND.

 

A SENIOR DIRECTOR AT EVERYTOWN LAW SAID IN A STATEMENT THE COURT’S RULING WILL UNDOUBTEDLY PUT LIVES AT RISK AND IT MUST BE REVERSED.