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Judge Rules Law Banning Gun Sales to Adults Under 21 Unconstitutional

A federal judge in Virginia ruled that a law banning licensed federal firearms dealers from selling handguns to young adults under 21 violates the Second Amendment. the Associated Press reports. The ruling Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Payne in Richmond would allow dealers to sell handguns to 18- to 20-year-olds. Payne wrote that many 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. Last year the Supreme Court ruled that courts must evaluate challenges to firearm restrictions by looking back into history to show if a law is consistent with the U.S. “historical tradition of firearm regulation." Since then, courts have declared unconstitutional laws including federal measures designed to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and defendants under felony indictment, as well as a ban on possessing guns with the serial number removed. A federal judge cited the high court decision in ruling against a Minnesota law prohibiting 18- to 20-year-olds from getting permits to carry handguns in public. A judge struck down a similar law last year on gun restrictions for young adults in Texas.


Payne, who cited the 2022 Supreme Court ruling repeatedly in his ruling, wrote that the government failed to present “any evidence of age-based restrictions on the purchase or sale of firearms from the colonial era, Founding or 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 right to keep and bear arms confirmed by the Second Amendment,” he wrote. John Corey Fraser, 20, along with several other plaintiffs, challenged the constitutionality of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the associated regulations from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after they were turned down when they tried to buy handguns. Everytown Law, which that advocates for gun violence prevention in the courts and filed a brief supporting the age restrictions, said the law is constitutional and an essential tool for preventing gun violence. “Not only are guns the leading cause of death for U.S. kids and teens, but research shows us that 18- to 20-year-olds commit gun homicides at triple the rate of adults 21 years and older,” said Everytown's Janet Carter. “The Court’s ruling will undoubtedly put lives at risk. It must be reversed.”

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