Federal Handgun Age Limit Ruled Unconstitutional

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Virginia struck down a law prohibiting licensed federal weapons dealers from selling handguns to buyers under 21, ruling it violates their Second Amendment rights.

Federal Handgun Age Limit Ruled Unconstitutional
Image credit: Breitbart

Facts

  • On Wednesday, a federal judge in Virginia struck down a law prohibiting licensed federal weapons dealers from selling handguns to buyers under 21, ruling it violates their Second Amendment rights.1
  • In his 71-page ruling, Judge Robert Payne said the statutes and regulations restricting young Americans aged 18-20 from buying a firearm are "not consistent with our nation's history and tradition" and, therefore, could not stand.2
  • In addition, Payne noted that as Americans have the right to vote, join the military, and serve on a federal jury at 18, there is no reason why federal law should keep guns out of their hands.3
  • In his lawsuit filed last year, 20-year-old John Corey Fraser challenged the constitutionality of the Gun Control Act of 1968, which allows Americans above 18 to buy shotguns and rifles but limits the sale of handguns to adults 21 and older.4
  • The Justice Department is expected to appeal the ruling, and 18- to 20-year-olds are still not allowed to buy handguns until the judge issues his final order, due in the next few weeks. The order will also not apply to 19 states that have their own laws governing handgun sales.1
  • In March, the Spring 2023 Harvard Youth Poll found that 63% of America's 18- to 29-year-olds support stronger gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons and psychological exams for all gun purchases.5

Sources: 1Reuters, 2FOX News, 3ABC News, 4Washington Post, and 5Harvard.

Narratives

  • Democratic narrative, as provided by Common Dreams. This ruling invalidates an essential tool for controlling gun violence. Guns are the leading cause of death for US children, and research shows that 18- to 20-year-olds commit homicides at triple the rate of adults who are 21 and older. This decision will put lives at risk and must be reversed.
  • Republican narrative, as provided by National Review. The state was unable to provide examples or statistics to justify this irrational ban on gun buyers from one age group, and the precedent set in the SCOTUS Bruen case makes this a slam dunk. These gun buyers will be held to the same federal standard as older gun purchasers, so there’s no safety concern that would make it acceptable to violate these people’s Second Amendment rights.

Predictions