RICHMOND, Va. — A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that a law that prohibits federally licensed firearms dealers from selling handguns to young adults under the age of 21 violates the Second Amendment and is unconstitutional.
Wednesday’s ruling by US District Court Judge Robert Payne in Richmond, if not overturned, would allow dealers to sell firearms to 18- to 20-year-olds.
In his 71-page ruling, Payne wrote that many of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship are granted at the age of 18, including the right to vote, enlist in the military without parental permission, and serve on a federal jury.
“If the Court were to exclude 18- to 20-year-olds from Second Amendment protection, it would place limitations on the Second Amendment that do not exist with other constitutional guarantees,” Payne wrote.
«Because the statutes and regulations in question are not consistent with our Nation’s history and tradition, they therefore cannot stand,» he wrote.
Payne’s ruling is the latest decision to strike down gun laws following a landmark Supreme Court ruling last year that changed the test courts have long used to assess challenges to gun restrictions. of fire. The Supreme Court said that judges should no longer consider whether the law serves public interests, such as improving public safety. Governments that want to maintain a gun restriction must look back in history to show that it is consistent with the country’s «historic tradition of firearms regulation,» the Supreme Court said.
Amid turmoil in the months since that ruling, courts have declared laws unconstitutional, including federal measures designed to keep guns out of the reach of domestic abusers and felony defendants, as well as the ban of possessing weapons with the serial number removed. A federal judge recently cited the high court’s decision in ruling against a Minnesota law that prohibits 18- to 20-year-olds from obtaining permits to carry weapons in public. A judge struck down a similar law last year on gun restrictions for young adults in Texas.
Payne, who repeatedly cited the 2022 Supreme Court ruling in his ruling, wrote that the government presented “no evidence of age-based restrictions on the purchase or sale of colonial-era, foundation, or foundation-era firearms.” early republic”. The lack of similar regulations from those time periods indicates that the “Founders considered age-based regulations on the purchase of firearms to circumscribe the Second Amendment-confirmed right to keep and bear arms,” she wrote.
John Corey Fraser, 20, along with several other plaintiffs, challenged the constitutionality of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and associated regulations from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after they were rejected when they attempted to buy firearms.
“While ensuring that future buyers can now purchase these firearms in the federal system, which includes background checks and other requirements, we expect the defendants to appeal,” said Elliott Harding, Fraser’s attorney. He said that he is optimistic that the ruling will be affirmed.
Harding said the lawsuit was aimed at «closing a legal loophole» because 18- to 20-year-olds can already buy firearms from private sellers, a process that is «completely unregulated.»
“This allows them to go in and buy a registered firearm, directly from a manufacturer, but they will also go through background checks,” he said. “They have to go through the traditional steps to buy a firearm.”
Everytown Law, a legal group that advocates for the prevention of gun violence in court and has filed a report supporting the age restrictions, said the law is constitutional and an essential tool for preventing gun violence.
“Not only are firearms the leading cause of death among children and teens in the United States, but research shows us that 18- to 20-year-olds commit homicides with firearms at three times the rate than adults 21 and older,” said Janet Carter of Everytown Law. senior director of affairs and appeals.
“The Court’s ruling will undoubtedly put lives in danger,” he said. «It must be the other way around.»
The Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not respond to emails seeking comment on the ruling.