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Appellate court: Adults ages 18-20 have right to buy handguns

BELLEVUE — The Second Amendment Foundation is celebrating a U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found laws preventing handgun sales to adults ages 18-21 unconstitutional.

In a 2-1 decision Tuesday, July 13, the court — in a 141-page ruling — found that restricting handgun sales to adults ages 18-20 is arbitrary.

The cae is Tanner Hirschfeld; Natalia Marshall v. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives; ATF Acting Director Marvin Richardson and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

Writing for the majority, Judge Julius N. Richardson asked, "When do constitutional rights vest? At 18 or 21? 16 or 25? Why not 13 or 33?"

He acknowledged that at time a delineation between must be made, but that there must be a constitutional reason.

"Our nation’s most cherished constitutional rights vest no later than 18," he wrote. "And the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms is

no different."

Because adults ages 18-20 already have a constitutional right to carry a firearm, Richardson said they also enjoy the right to carry a handgun.

"They enjoy almost every other constitutional right, and they were required at the time of the founding to serve in the militia and furnish their

own weapons," he wrote. "We then ask, as our precedent requires, whether the government has met its burden to justify its infringement of those rights..."

According to Richardson, Congress has used crime rates to justify infringing on the rights of adults, but failed to establish that firearms dealers were selling the handguns to those adults committing crimes.

"Despite the weighty interest in reducing crime and violence, we refuse to relegate either the Second Amendment or 18- to 20-year-olds to a second-class status," he wrote.

Richardson wrote that it is ironic that the government prevents the sale of handguns to 18-20-year-old men and women and then gives them more sophisticated weapons when serving in the military.

Second Amendment Foundation Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb called the decision a "monumental victory."

“We send young men and women into harm’s way to said our national interests, yet our laws arbitrarily say they shouldn’t be trusted enough to buy a handgun here at home," he said. "That defies logic and common sense, and it’s an insult to anyone in the affected age group who can vote for president, run for local office, start his or her own business, buy a home, enter into contracts or get married and start a family.

“Judge Richardson, in my estimation, has authored one of the best-written opinions in any gun rights case I’ve ever read.”

The decision could affect the outcome of similar cases nationwide, including at least one in Washington state.

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

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Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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