Appeals Court Reverses Ruling On Gun Sales Under Age 21

Appeals Court Reverses Ruling On Gun Sales Under Age 21
AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File

A while back, a federal appeals court issued a ruling that was, in my opinion, critical to gun rights. In particular, the ruling essentially said that adults under the age of 21 still had a right to keep and bear arms. This seems obvious since we routinely accept people this age to be able to vote, say what they wish, worship as they wish, and so on.


Then again, gun rights are considered second-class rights by far too many in this country.

Still, we at least got that ruling, so there’s that. Or, more specifically, there was.

A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday threw out its recent decision that a federal prohibition on firearms dealers selling guns to young adults under 21 was unconstitutional, deciding the case was now moot because both plaintiffs have reached that age.

A panel of the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had issued the 2-1 ruling on July 13, authored by Circuit Judge Julius Richardson. But Richardson said it now serves the public interest to vacate the decision, clearing the way for further litigation on the matter.

Richardson also said the public and legal community will benefit because “the exchange of ideas between the panel and dissent will remain available as a persuasive source.”

The federal measures being challenged bar handgun sales to people ages 18 to 20.

In the July decision, the panel’s majority said people as young as 18 had a right to own guns under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms.

It also said young adults could not be relegated to “second-class status,” notwithstanding the “weighty interest in reducing crime and violence.”

One plaintiff turned 21 before the court ruled, and the second turned 21 on July 25 before the court issued a mandate in the case. Both had sought unsuccessfully to buy firearms in Virginia, when they were younger.


See, I have an issue with this because while the case in question involved these two individuals, the broader question was about the constitutionality of bans on adults under 21 buying handguns. That didn’t change because the two plaintiffs are now old enough to drink.

Yes, I understand the issue of standing, but both had standing when the case was started and the court should at least decide the question.

Now, because of this ruling by the appeals court, we’re going to have to go through all of this again. Maybe this time they can add 18-year-olds to the lawsuit along the way? I don’t even know if they can do that, of course, but at least start with plaintiffs young enough to still have standing for a few years.

Otherwise, I fear we’re never going to get this problem resolved and rest assured, it is a problem.

While anti-Second Amendment types claim people in this age group don’t have fully developed brains, they also include people who want to lower the voting age and legalize marijuana for people in this same age category. Their positions don’t actually match up worth a damn.

But for us, we don’t mind 18-year-olds voting, being able to enlist, signing contracts, or being able to keep and bear arms that they purchase themselves.


This whole thing about being able to have a gun if someone gives them one–and this has actually been offered as a defense for this law–is BS and anyone with half a brain knows it, yet that’s where we are, especially now.

Frankly, we need to get a case like this before the Supreme Court and, hopefully, have them spike this like a volleyball, because legal adults are being denied their rights.

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