A federal appeals court ruled that Pennsylvania laws barring 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying firearms in public during a state of emergency are unconstitutional, citing a key U.S. Supreme Court ruling that expanded gun rights. The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by a 2-1 vote held that the right to keep and bear arms under the Constitution's Second Amendment extended to adults under the age of 21, Reuters reports. It marked the latest instance of a court striking down a gun law after the Supreme Court's conservative majority changed the landscape of firearms regulation with its June 2022 ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.
That case recognized for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense. It also established a new test for assessing firearms laws, saying restrictions must be "consistent with this nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation." U.S. Circuit Judge Kent Jordan in Thursday's Pennsylvania case wrote that the "words 'the people' in the Second Amendment presumptively encompass all adult Americans, including 18- to 20-year-olds, and we are aware of no founding-era law that supports disarming people in that age group." His opinion was joined by a fellow appointee of President George W. Bush, Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith. Circuit Judge L. Felipe Restrepo, an appointee of President Barack Obama, dissented, saying the Second Amendment did not cover people under 21. The ruling was a victory for the Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition, two gun rights groups that along with several young Pennsylvanians challenged the state restrictions on 18- to 20-year-olds carrying guns