4th Circuit Throws Out Case Overturning Ban on Selling Handguns to Adults Under 21

Over the summer the 2A community celebrated a decision from a three-judge panel on the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down laws preventing adults under the age of 21 from buying handguns.  

This week, however, we have some bad news to report as that same court reneged on that ruling following a request from Biden’s DOJ to reconsider it.   

The reason it did a 180?  

“The court reversed itself not because of the merit of the suit or that it was wrongly decided,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, in an email to GunsAmerica. “They remanded it back to the lower court because the plaintiffs turned 21 and are no longer between the ages of 18 to 20 making the suit moot.”

“This has been a problem as well for some similar Second Amendment Foundation lawsuits in the past,” he continued. “However, SAF has a few suits currently filed in federal court that we keep adding young adult plaintiffs to so that they can’t be ruled moot as plaintiffs age. Eventually, we will win this battle to protect the Second Amendment rights of young adults.”

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The original decision striking down the prohibition was written by Judge Julius Richardson, a Trump appointee.

“Looking through this historical lens to the text and structure of the Constitution reveals that 18- to 20-year-olds have Second Amendment rights. Virtually every other constitutional right applies whatever the age. And the Second Amendment is no different,” Richardson wrote back in July.

“The militia laws in force at the time of ratification uniformly required those 18 and older to join the militia and bring their own arms. While some historical restrictions existed, none support finding that 18-year-olds lack rights under the Second Amendment,” he continued.

At the time, it was universally hailed by gun-rights advocates as a great victory for the 2A movement.  

However, this latest reversal has left a bad taste in taste in the mouths of many.

“The Fourth Circuit is telling the public that Second Amendment rights can be denied as long as the courts can run out the clock,” noted Mark Oliva, the director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.  

“This is another example of lower courts treating the Second Amendment as a second-class right,” he added.  

This battle is far from over.  Stay tuned for updates.  

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About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • JD September 24, 2021, 11:17 am

    Maybe instead of lowering the age to buy handguns and alcohol, we should raise the age to vote and join the military. Give them any extra 3 years to let their brains develop. But then the left would lose voters and the government would lose their cannon fodder.

  • Mark September 24, 2021, 10:40 am

    This is a ridiculous reason to over turn the initial ruling. So if you are charged with a crime but by the time you go to court, the statute of limitations expires before the court date, are you off the hook? If a girl was a victim of statutory rape but is now 18 years old when it comes to trial are the charges dropped? NO! The point of the lawsuit is that 18 – 20 year olds are denied their 2ND Amendment rights to purchase handguns.

  • John September 24, 2021, 9:17 am

    I bought many guns when I was in that age bracket. I was taught how to handle them by my father. Then hunter safety classes came along which is fine. My guns have never caused any problems. That was in the sixties, it has been going downhill ever since.
    The society the liberals have created is the problem.

  • Steve September 24, 2021, 3:06 am

    If someone is Old Enough to Join The Military, they should be Old Enough to buy ANY Firearms!
    Any Agreements? Disagreements and Why?

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