Federal Judge Strikes Down Ban on Selling Handguns To 18-to-20-Year-Olds

Brittany M. Hughes | May 11, 2023
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A federal judge in Virginia on Thursday struck down a federal ban against licensed firearms dealers selling handguns to 18-to-20-year-olds, saying the rule was "not consistent" with the Second Amendment.

“Because the statutes and regulations in question are not consistent with our Nation’s history and tradition, they, therefore, cannot stand,” Richmond-based U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne wrote it his 71-page opinion, per the Washington Post.

The case had been brought by John Corey Fraser who, at 20 years old, had tried to by a handgun from a gun seller in May of 2022. Fraser was denied the sale thanks to a longstanding federal ban on licensed firearms dealers selling handguns to anyone under the age of 21, despite the legal age of adulthood being 18 and even though 18-to-20-year-olds are still legally able to purchase handguns in private sales.

So, he filed a lawsuit challenging the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the ATF's under-21 rule as unconstitutional. And it seems Payne agreed.

In his opinion, Payne wrote that there is no solid legal standard for why the age to purchase a handgun from a gun dealer is currently set at 21, noting that adults aged 18-to-20 are able to enlist in the military and purchase handguns legally in private transactions, and therefore the Second Amendment clearly applies to them.

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"No federal appellate court, much less the Supreme Court, has squarely determined that the Second Amendment’s rights vest at age 21” he wrote, adding that “to date, three circuits, the Fifth, Seventh, and Eleventh, have looked at this question head-on and have declined to answer it.”

"Like these other rights, the Second Amendment’s protections apply to 18-to-20-year-olds," Payne continued. "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."

Of course, it's not a sure thing that Payne's decision will stand. Predictably, the Biden Department of Justice is expected to appeal the ruling and file for a stay, meaning the decision won't take effect until the case can be examined by a higher court. But for now, we'll count this as a victory for Second Amendment rights, and for all the law-abiding American adults who've been unfairly denied them.

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