In what appears to be the first major judicial decision since a major Supreme Court ruling on weapon rights in June, a federal judge in Texas threw out the state's ban on people between 18 and 20 years old from carrying handguns. The Firearms Policy Coalition, a gun-owners' rights group, challenged the Texas statute that bans young adults not in active military service from having handguns in public. The group said the ban violated the Second Amendment In June, the high court ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual right to carry weapons in public for self-defense. The decision also ordered the federal judiciary to apply a "history-only" test when considering challenges to weapons regulations, saying a regulation was constitutional only if it was similar to those existing in the 18th century when the Second Amendment was ratified. U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman in Fort Worth ruled that there was no historical tradition of stopping young adults from carrying guns in public. He repeatedly cited the new Supreme Court ruling but suspended his ruling for 30 days to allow Texas to file an appeal, Reuters reports.
Lawyers from the Texas attorney general's office had unsuccessfully argued that there was a historical basis for determining who could carry guns based on age. The restriction on age only applied to handguns; long guns can be bought in Texas once a person turns 18, as was the case with the 18-year-old who used a semi-automatic rifle to attack a school in Uvalde, TX, in May. Last year, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law that meant Texans over 21 years old no longer had to get a license or undergo a background check or training to carry a handgun. Democratic leaders have decried the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen for making it much more difficult to regulate guns in a country where mass shootings have become recurrent. Similar restrictions on young adults are being challenged in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Minnesota, California and Georgia by the Firearms Policy Coalition. "This decision is a significant victory for the rights of young adults in Texas and demonstrates for the rest of the nation that similar bans cannot withstand constitutional challenges grounded in history," said the group's Cody Wisniewski.