House Dem Introduces Bill To Bar Gun Sales To Under-21s

AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar

Congressman Ted Deutch is at it again! I reported over the weekend about Deutch’s quietly introduced bill to add all semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines to the NFA, and today we have more to talk about. Much like that bill, this bill’s introduction has no press release, no fanfare, nada! Aside from that it makes it difficult to actually report on the bill, we’re left with more questions than answers. Like the situation regarding the NFA bill, the title of this bill is near tell all:

H.R. 4992: To amend title 18, United States Code, to increase the age at which a rifle or shotgun may be acquired from a federally licensed firearms dealer, and for other purposes.

Unlike H.R. 4953, this proposed bill has no cosponsors at this time. Currently the bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee and was introduced on August 10th.

As for “other purposes”, who knows what kind of non-sense “commonsense” the anti-freedom caucus has injected in this civil right squishing legislation.

Seeing a proposed law like this, and we can assume the “age increase” will be to 21 for long gun purchase, is very brazen given the recent ruling in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Cam reported last month on Hirschfeld v. ATF, a case involving an individual under the age of 21 trying to purchase a pistol. The opinion tells Deutch everything he needs to know about what age is appropriate for firearm ownership:

History makes clear that 18- to 20-year-olds were understood to fall under the Second Amendment’s protections. Those over 18 were universally required to be part of the militia near the ratification, proving that they were considered part of “the people” who enjoyed Second Amendment rights, and most other constitutional rights apply to this age group. And Congress may not restrict the rights of an entire group of law-abiding adults because a minuscule portion of that group commits a disproportionate amount of gun violence. Congress’s failure to connect handgun purchases from licensed dealers to youth gun violence only serves to highlight the law’s “unduly tenuous ‘fit’” with the government’s substantial interests. Craig, 429 U.S. at 202.

Eighteen- to twenty-year-olds have Second Amendment rights, and the challenged laws impermissibly burden those rights. As a result, we vacate the district court’s grant of the motion to dismiss, reverse the denial of summary judgment, and remand for further proceedings.

Granted, we’ve seen different outcomes in another circuit involving that actual question that would be posed from banning 18 to 21-year olds from purchasing long guns. That case was NRA v. Swearingen, a challenge to Florida’s ban on adults under 21 from purchasing any firearm. Cam reported in June on that case, which also brought up the question on if the 11th Circuit rendered an appropriate opinion:

In his decision, Walker noted that bans on those under the age of 21 from purchasing firearms date back to the mid-19th century, and that by 1900 “roughly 41% of states had restrictions involving 18-to-20-year-olds and firearms.” Those restrictions predate most prohibitions on felons and those adjudicated by courts as mentally ill from possessing firearms, which Walker reasoned makes bans on guns for under-21s “longstanding” laws that, under the Eleventh Circuit’s previous guidance, must be upheld.

Still, Walker makes it clear that he has real concerns about the precedent set by the Eleventh Circuit and the damage that it can do to the Second Amendment rights of young adults.

After Florida suffered one of the worst school shootings in our nation’s history, its Legislature faced a colossal challenge, forced to make difficult decisions while under tremendous time pressure. This Court does not envy the difficult balance the Legislature had to strike.

That said, this Court has grave concerns about the balance the Legislature struck. While the Act appears broad on its face, as Defendant argues, many 18-to-20-year-olds who wish to obtain a firearm will be able to do so through parents or other relatives. Whether this is an effective check on rash decision-making, this Court cannot say. But it is clear that this law will have little impact on many, if not most, 18-to-20-year-old Floridians. In short, then, it is not clear how much the Act does to prevent tragedies like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Equally troubling to this Court is that, as Plaintiffs point out, “to those 18-to20-year-olds who do not have parents or legal guardians . . . or do not otherwise have anyone willing to gift or loan a firearm to them,” the Act functions as a total ban. Worse still, it is likely that these particular 18-to-20-yearolds are the ones who actually need firearms to defend themselves: they are likely independent, likely to live in dangerous neighborhoods, and likely to have families and children of their own. Why should the 20-year-old single mother living on her own be unable to obtain a firearm for self-defense when a 20-year-old living with their parents can easily obtain one?

In the end, the matter of adults between the ages of 18 and 21 being banned from being able to purchase a firearm is something that’s going to have to come to a head at the Supreme Court. Personally, I don’t see such prohibitions holding up Constitutional muster in the long run. Bills like this one are just fantastical coming from the anti-freedom caucus, especially when the same people that want to ban law abiding adults from owning firearms also want to allow 16-year olds to vote. But we can suppose that’s none of our business, right? Is Deutch in favor of raising the voting age to 21? I think not.

As for Congressman Ted Deutch, have a little more tact. This is the second bill introduced within a week of another that you have put out zero information on. Shame, shame, shame on you! Are you on vacation? Out to lunch? Or are you trying to quietly squeeze these things in there to gain you some “I’m doing something” points for the midterms? In any and every event, I urge you and all the other congresscritters to be more forthcoming with your sleazy propositions. We the people deserve to know immediately when a lawmaker has introduced a civil rights trampling proposal! In my coverage of the last bill you introduced, I told you:

I’m watching what you’re doing congresscritters!

And I’ll continue to do so.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET