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.
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.”