Federal Judge Strikes Down Age Limit on Handgun Purchases: 'Not Consistent with Our Nation's History and Tradition'
A federal judge on Wednesday threw out a 1968 law banning anyone under the age of 21 from buying a handgun from a licensed federal firearms dealer.
The 71-page ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Robert Payne drew heavily on the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which overturned a New York state ban on carrying handguns.
As noted by Fox News, that Supreme Court ruling put the burden on states to show that any gun control law is “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”
The Bruen ruling was cited in April by a federal judge in Minnesota, who struck down a law that sought to ban residents between 18 and 20 years old from owning guns. In August, a federal judge in Texas issued a similar ruling based on the Bruen decision.
Payne’s ruling said that no federal appellate court has determined that Second Amendment rights kick in at age 21.
“If the court were to exclude 18-to-20-year-olds from the Second Amendment’s protection, it would impose limitations on the Second Amendment that do not exist with other constitutional guarantees,” he said.
“Because the statutes and regulations in question are not consistent with our Nation’s history and tradition, they, therefore, cannot stand.”
Payne said the Bruen ruling was critical in reaching his decision.
“Under the analytical framework established in Bruen, the Government simply has not met its burden to support the finding that restrictions on the purchasing of firearms by 18-to-20-year-olds is part of our nation’s history and tradition,” Payne wrote.
He said the government did not provide “any evidence of age-based restrictions on the purchase or sale of firearms from the colonial era, Founding, or Early Republic.”
Payne argued that “the Founders considered age-based regulations on the purchase of firearms to circumscribe the right to keep and bear arms confirmed by the Second Amendment.”
John Corey Fraser, 20, was among the plaintiffs challenging the Gun Control Act of 1968 and regulations from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after he and others were unable to buy handguns, according to ABC News.
“Even though [the ruling] ensures that future buyers can now purchase these firearms in the federal system — one that includes background checks and other requirements — we expect the defendants will appeal,” Fraser’s attorney Elliott Harding said, adding that the decision should survive any appeal.
William T. Clark, an attorney with the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which filed an amicus brief supporting the law, condemned Payne’s ruling, according to The Washington Post.
“It’s a significant decision — we disagree with the outcome,” Clark said. “There is compelling scientific evidence showing that teenagers are more impulsive and face unique elevated dangers from firearms.”
Payne was appointed by former President George H.W. Bush.
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