(JustPatriots.com)- Federal rules that set a minimum age requirement at 21 years old to purchase a handgun from a licensed dealer are in violation of the Second Amendment.
A panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made that ruling this week, with a 2-1 vote.
Judge Julius N. Richardson, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, wrote the majority opinion in the matter. He wrote that these laws relegated “either the Second Amendment or 18- to 20-year-olds to a second-class status.”
“Looking through this historical lens to the text and structure of the Constitution reveals that 18- to 20-year-olds have Second Amendment rights. Virtually every other constitutional right applies whatever the age. And the Second Amendment is no different.”
The other judge who joined the majority opinion was conservative G. Steven Agee, who was appointed to his position by George W. Bush. The one dissenting judge was James A. Wynn Jr., who was appointed by Barack Obama.
In the dissenting opinion, Wynn wrote that the panel granted “the gun lobby a victory in a fight it lost on Capitol Hill more than 50 years ago.” He further said the ruling wasn’t “consistent with the proper role of the federal judiciary in our democratic system.”
While the ruling was a big win for conservatives and gun-rights groups, it is widely expected that it will be appealed. It was likely that no matter what the outcome of the three-judge Appeals Court panel, it would have been appealed to the next level.
The next step would be a hearing in front of the full 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Some believe that the case could eventually make its way to the Supreme Court.
This case was brought by people who were trying to buy handguns but were barred from doing so because they weren’t yet 21 years old. They argued that couldn’t be done because they were adults.
The laws they were targeting in their suit were those passed in 1968 by Congress as well as other regulations that ban licensed gun dealers from selling handguns to people under the age of 21.
When the law was passed in the 1960s, research said people under the age of 21 were involved in gun violence and crime at a disproportionately high rate compared to the rest of the population.
The Appeals Court wrote in the majority opinion, though, that “the rights of more than 99% of a group cannot be restricted because a fraction of 1% commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime.”
The majority opinion also drew on a more relevant comparison in data. At the time the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, people who were at least 18 years old could serve in state militias.
In the majority opinion, Richardson wrote:
“Militia laws are helpful because they provide a baseline for determining the relevant political community that enjoyed Second Amendment rights. They support the affirmative conclusion that 18-year-olds are protected by the Second Amendment.
“But, even if history were less clear, 18-year-olds would not necessarily be excluded from the Second Amendment’s protections.”