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Respecting The Rights Of All Adults

Monday, December 13, 2010

By *** Required ***

Now that the commotion of the election season has given way to the peace of the holiday season, I hope you will find time to reflect on the blessings we enjoy as Americans—especially the courageous men and women who defend our freedoms abroad so we may enjoy this season in safety at home.

It`s troubling, though, that the freedoms they fight so selflessly to defend aren`t shared equally by all our citizens—including many of those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

In the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller ruling, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental, individual right for all Americans, the Court said "the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon."

For law-abiding citizens throughout America, being able to own and carry handguns affords security from the world`s dangers. This is why NRA is backing James D`Cruz`s lawsuits against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and against the Texas Department of Public Safety, both filed Sept. 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Mr. D`Cruz is 18 years old and his suits challenge federal and state laws that infringe on the Second Amendment rights of people under age 21. At the federal level, the Gun Control Act of 1968 denies 18- to 20-year-olds the right to purchase handguns from federally licensed dealers. And Texas law doesn`t allow issuance of Right-to-Carry permits to people under age 21, other than current members of the armed forces or honorably discharged veterans.

Ironically, the Gun Control Act claims, "it is not the purpose of this title to place any undue or unnecessary federal restrictions or burdens on law-abiding citizens with respect to the acquisition, possession, or use of firearms." Restricting the right of law-abiding adult citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights is both undue and unnecessary.

We should not allow these laws to circumvent what the Supreme Court has made clear in its Heller and McDonald v. Chicago rulings: the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms for all law-abiding Americans.

And D`Cruz is certainly a law-abiding American—a responsible citizen, fully trained in the proper and safe use of firearms. He first learned to handle firearms from his grandfather, a veteran of World War ii, and continued his training as a member of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, competing in regional and national marksmanship competitions.

As an 18-year-old citizen, D`Cruz should have all the rights that citizenship entails. He can vote in our elections. He can decide others` fates as a jury member. He even has to register for a potential draft under the Selective Service System. But he is denied the right to purchase or carry "the quintessential self-defense weapon" until his 21st birthday.

What`s especially troubling is that there are plenty of 18- to 20-year-olds who need to exercise their right to self-defense as much as anyone else. These adults often have very young children to protect and, since many are near the bottom of the workforce, they are more likely to live in higher-crime neighborhoods.

These young adults can join the military and put their lives on the line day after day, but upon their return, are reminded that some of the rights they fought to protect don`t apply to them.

And what about their loved ones, whom they leave behind when they fight for our freedoms? The law is clear—just like anyone else, military spouses under age 21 cannot buy handguns from licensed dealers to defend themselves when their husbands or wives are deployed in war zones halfway around the world. And in Texas and many other states, they can`t get carry permits.

Filing these cases was an important step toward guaranteeing all law-abiding citizens their fundamental freedoms. These cases are about protecting your life and your loved ones when no one else can or will.

We`re supporting D`Cruz`s lawsuits because we believe in his fundamental rights as an American citizen—rights guaranteed by the Constitution and confirmed by the Supreme Court. Federal and state law should respect his rights as well.

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