Federal Appeals Court: Gov’t Can’t Ban Adults Under 21 from Buying Handguns

Laws that prevent adults under the age of 21 from buying handguns at a gun shop are unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.  

A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled on the matter.  Judge Julius Richardson, a Trump appointee, wrote the majority opinion for the court.  

“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.

“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.

Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation was more than pleased with the ruling.  

“This is a great 2A victory. The written opinion is one of the best I have ever read,” he told GunsAmerica via email.  

Judge James Wynn Jr. wrote the dissenting opinion, in which he contended lawmakers had the power to place age restrictions on 2A rights because of their interest to promote public safety. 

“The majority’s decision to grant the gun lobby a victory in a fight it lost on Capitol Hill more than fifty years ago is not compelled by law. Nor is it consistent with the proper role of the federal judiciary in our democratic system,” Wynn wrote.

SEE ALSO: California Judge Opens Door for More Frivolous Lawsuits Against Gun Makers & Dealers

Judge Richardson acknowledged lawmakers’ “weighty interest in reducing crime and violence” but said the court refused to “relegate either the Second Amendment or 18- to 20-year-olds to a second-class status.”

Judge Wynn bashed that argument saying it was “simply surreal.”

“Indeed, in a country that boasts a Congress, bench, bar, academy, and electorate that are all attentive to the prerogatives of gun owners, where many may conceal their weapons, carry them openly, or “stand their ground,” and where civilian gun ownership rates are second to none, the majority’s second-class status concern is simply surreal,” Wynn wrote.

“No, the Second Amendment is exceptional not because it is uniquely oppressed or imperiled, but rather because it is singularly capable of causing harm,” he added.

Plaintiffs Natalia Marshall and Tanner Hirschfeld brought the case to court after the two Virginia attempted to purchase firearms but were denied because of their age.  

The Washington Post is reporting that the decision will likely be appealed for an “en banc” review before the entire 4th Circuit. Stay tuned for updates. 

But in the meantime, check out the majority decision embedded below.  Mr. Gottlieb is correct.  It’s one of the best pro-gun rulings in recent memory: 

“I’ve said the same thing repeatedly,” Gottlieb acknowledged, “because it strikes at the very heart of gun control foolishness. We send young men and women into harm’s way to defend our national interests, yet our laws arbitrarily say they shouldn’t be trusted enough to buy a handgun here at home. That defies logic and common sense, and it’s an insult to anyone in the affected age group who can vote for president, run for local office, start his or her own business, buy a home, enter into contracts or get married and start a family.

“We have similar cases pending in Illinois, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Washington, California, Minnesota and other states that this Fourth Circuit ruling could directly impact,” Gottlieb said. “The importance of common-sense decisions such as Judge Richardson’s cannot be over-stated.”

***Buy and Sell on GunsAmerica! All Local Sales are FREE!***

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

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Kelly Lee July 19, 2021, 4:28 pm

    “…in a fight it lost on Capitol Hill more than fifty years ago…” Hmm, seems the right already existed for around 190 years before that so that’s a really lame argument. It was just another form of infringing upon citizens’ rights. Also, he doesn’t say whether it was ever brought up before SCOTUS for Constitutional review. Bet it would have (or at least should have) been stricken down if it had been!

  • Tank July 17, 2021, 10:23 am

    I have not heard anything about the mentally ill or the criminal. Politicians don’t want to deal with the M.I. issue because it is costly. Since slick Willie Clinton opened the doors to the M.I. facilities, crime has skyrocketed by these people. Built facilities, put rhem away forvtreatment and protect the rest of us. Guns are not the problem, blind liberal politicians are.

  • rs July 16, 2021, 4:05 pm

    The dissenting justice believes that lawmakers can pass laws that violate our rights. Doesn’t that make them… un-Constitutional? We all know what the Left thinks of that document, it’s an obstacle to their control. Wikipedia says that he’s a Democrat and was nominated by guess who, Obama.

  • Vlad Tepes July 16, 2021, 10:02 am

    I predict that the next appeal will uphold the 21 year minimum as law. The corrupt courts have had a long sorry history in fearing and hating gun ownership because it is a threat to their absolute power over the people

    Another factor not discussed is that young men do not reach full mental maturity until age 25 which makes them incapable of realizing the consequences of their actions both short term and long term. The evil militaries of the world are not being told anything new as they have used this immaturity flaw in young men as a tool to brainwashing them into following their orders without question or thought to the consequences of their actions. Those in favor of keeping the 21 year old minimum will use this as a reason to uphold the law and not change it.

    • Kane July 16, 2021, 2:14 pm

      What do you think of perverts trying to influence a child’s sexual indentity in the grade schools?

    • J nielsen July 17, 2021, 12:16 am

      FALSE. Go try peddling that FAKE NEWS on a different website.

      Even of your propaganda slogan did have any truth, how does dudes brains effect the CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT of a female over 16?

      “…young men do not reach full mental maturity until age 25”

  • Altoids July 16, 2021, 8:56 am

    “No, the Second Amendment is exceptional not because it is uniquely oppressed or imperiled, but rather because it is singularly capable of causing harm,” he added.

    Oh, so crime is now the Second Amendment’s fault. Poor choices by people committing those crimes has nothing to do with it.

    Some of those judges must be smoking pot.

    • Give Me Liberty July 16, 2021, 4:26 pm

      Some attacking the 2nd Amendment believe that this amendment alone “is singularly capable of causing harm” do not understand.

      What about me causing harm by sitting on a jury in a trial and voting “not guilty” on someone that has adequate evidence against them for murder? What about someone causing great harm by voting for a tyrant to take office as Governor of a State, or in the halls of Congress or the office of President?

      Great harm can be done to others by using our freedom wrongfully on numerous things.

      • Ej harbet July 19, 2021, 1:18 pm

        Well said!
        Freedom can be very dangerous but ill take it over being a slave.

  • Bill July 16, 2021, 8:51 am

    At 18, you are an adult and you are entitled to leave the authority of your parents. You can join the military, buy a car and drive and vote. You should be allowed to drink and own a gun. Clearly the government intent was to treat you as an adult in all aspects.

  • R Hays July 16, 2021, 7:06 am

    It’s simply a case of the many being punished for the deeds of the few. I wonder what would happen if we treated politicians the same way…?

  • Dan July 16, 2021, 6:23 am

    “No, the Second Amendment is exceptional not because it is uniquely oppressed or imperiled, but rather because it is singularly capable of causing harm,”

    You could argue that the right to can cause harm.

    “When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.“
    -Ben Franklin

    • Dan July 16, 2021, 6:25 am

      Sorry, I meant to say the right to vote.

      • Bones July 21, 2021, 7:26 am

        Wtf does this mean ?

  • Pete Farris July 16, 2021, 5:33 am

    It has always amazed me that, in spite of the 14th Amendment and a Civil War, we could still have an underclass of American citizens. They can’t buy alcoholic beverages, handguns, or ammo for them, and now tobacco products. They can still own property, sue or be sued, and volunteer to die for their country. They’re either American citizens, or they’re not.

    • kc (sire/your majesty) July 16, 2021, 7:18 am

      But they can vote, further complicating the equation. And now we have a movement to lower the voting age to 16, while stating that they shouldn’t be held criminally liable because their “brains aren’t fully formed” before age 25. Talk about picking and choosing reality – they’re either fish or fowl, pick one, and stick with it. Pretty much what the court said.

    • James Miller July 16, 2021, 7:45 am

      Very well said, Pete!

    • Bones July 21, 2021, 7:27 am

      Yea FREE IS FREE ! Legalize everything !

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend