Last Updated on May 12, 2023
A judge in Virginia has struck down a federal ban on adults under 21 buying handguns, ruling that the ban violates the Second Amendment rights of young adults by blocking those aged 18, 19, and 20 from exercising a portion of those rights.
Young adults are entitled to the same Second Amendment rights as those 21 and older, Judge Robert Payne, of the 4th Circuit’s Eastern District of Virginia, found in his ruling that overturned portions of the Gun Control Act of 1968.
The ruling from Judge Payne came after young adults challenged provisions in the act that barred adults under 21 years of age from purchasing handguns from licensed firearm dealers. The ban though, which had long been called arbitrary by Second Amendment activists, did not stop young adults from possessing handguns or obtaining them through private sales.
“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,” Payne wrote in his ruling.
“Because the statutes and regulations in question are not consistent with our Nation’s history and tradition, they, therefore, cannot stand,” he wrote.
Additionally, Payne wrote in his court decision that the federal government, in defending its gun control law, failed to present “any evidence of age-based restrictions on the purchase or sale of firearms from the colonial era, Founding or Early Republic.”
In other words, Payne ruled that gun control measures that have attacked the constitutional rights of select groups of citizens, like bans on those under 21 purchasing handguns from licensed firearm dealers, have no precedence in American legal and constitutional history and therefore must be overturned.
Under Payne’s ruling, both parties in the case, those suing to strike down the gun purchase ban and the federal attorneys defending it, must meet by May 17th to “confer on how best to proceed” now that the law has been struck down. The next day, “the parties shall submit their recommendations.”