If you’re 18-years-old in this country, you can do damn near anything you want. You can get married, enlist in the military, buy a car, get a credit card, take on debt, just about anything and all without asking a parent’s permission. After all, at 18, you’re an adult.
One thing you can’t do, however, is purchase a handgun.
A while back, a lawsuit was filed in an effort to overturn that back in October of last year.
The federal district court ruled against them, but the plaintiffs aren’t giving up.
Two University of Virginia students plan to appeal after the dismissal of their lawsuit against the U.S. government that claimed a federal law restricting sales of handguns to people younger than 21 is unconstitutional.
The lawsuit, filed in October 2018 on behalf of then-20-year old Tanner Hirschfeld and then-18-year-old Natalia Marshall, asked the Western District Court of Virginia to declare the gun act unconstitutional and to stop enforcement of handgun and ammunition age restrictions.
Last week, Senior U.S. District Judge Glen E. Conrad ruled that the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights weren’t violated by a 1968 law that makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase a handgun.
Elliott Harding, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said in a written statement that the students were disappointed but not surprised by the court’s ruling. The challenged laws have been in effect for a long time and there was little previous precedent for a challenge, he wrote.
“We plan on appealing this decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and hope it will reverse course in favor of these young adults’ fundamental liberties,” he wrote.
Both plaintiffs have tried to purchase handguns from licensed gun dealers and were turned down due to their age.
This is interesting because, in much of the country, 18-year-olds and older are permitted to purchase long guns. That includes the much-demonized AR-15 as well as things like shotguns and hunting rifles. Yet a handful of states have made it so you have to be 21 to purchase a long gun as well. These regulations, coupled with the federal law barring anyone under 21 from buying a handgun, and you have a situation where law-abiding legal adults are prohibited from exercising their Second Amendment rights.
Of course, Virginia isn’t one of those states, but it’s still a topic worthy of discussion and consideration by the courts.
Frankly, I don’t think anyone should be surprised this one got kicked up the chain to the Court of Appeals. In fact, it probably needs to be decided at this level, and not just in Virginia. My hope is that we can get some conflicting rulings so this ends up on the Supreme Court’s desk and they agree to hear it.
The fact is that we currently treat 18-year-olds as second-class citizens. They deserve to have all of their civil liberties, not just the ones popular with the anti-gun crowd.
With luck, they’ll get that sooner or later. Not just for the sake of these two folks, but for the sake of everyone between age 18 and 21…including my son who also can’t buy a handgun if he wanted.