In a massive victory for Second Amendment rights, a federal court ruled on Tuesday that the United States’ ban on handgun sales to young adults ages 18 to 20 is unconstitutional.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 vote that the ban is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, as all other rights, guaranteed to us under the founding document, “vest no later than 18.”
Judge Julius Richardson, who was appointed by President Trump, wrote the majority opinion.
“When do constitutional rights vest? At 18 or 21? 16 or 25? Why not 13 or 33? In the law, a line must sometimes be drawn,” said Richardson. “But there must be a reason why constitutional rights cannot be enjoyed until a certain age.”
The judge continued, “Our nation’s most cherished constitutional rights vest no later than 18. And the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms is no different.”
Richardson recognized that Americans this age who have served in the armed forces “have since our Founding been trusted with the most sophisticated weaponry.”
“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,” the judge concluded.
Writing the dissent against the ruling was Judge James Wynn who opposed because “the Second Amendment alone protects a direct and lethal right to endanger oneself and others.”
“The Second Amendment is exceptional not because it is uniquely oppressed or imperiled, but rather because it is singularly capable of causing harm,” he wrote. “As other courts have recognized, while there are dangers inherent in other constitutionally protected rights — like the rights to speak and assemble — the Second Amendment alone protects a direct and lethal right to endanger oneself and others.”
The lawsuit challenging the ban was brought by two adults under the age of 21 who were denied the opportunity to purchase handguns from a licensed dealer. Together they decided to sue the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, arguing that their inability to purchase a handgun or ammunition from licensed firearms dealers was a violation of the Second Amendment.
Although groups like the National Rifle Association have praised the ruling, it is likely that the decision will be appealed to the full 4th Circuit. The controversial ban on the sale of handguns to adults ages 18 to 20 has been enforced since legislation was first passed in 1968.