Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Fifth Circuit Wrongly Upholds Ban on Young Adults' Handgun Purchases and Right-to-Carry

Monday, June 24, 2013

On Oct. 25, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the federal law that bans dealer sales of handguns to law-abiding adults between the ages of 18 and 20. The decision, in the case of National Rifle Association v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, involved a challenge to the law by several young adults, joined by the NRA on behalf of its members in the same age group.

In our briefs, we pointed out that the age limit is inconsistent with the laws America’s founders passed—such as the Militia Act of 1792, which required 18-year-olds to arm themselves for militia service. The age limit is also in conflict with court decisions interpreting other constitutional rights such as the First Amendment’s protection of free speech, as seen in a Second Circuit ruling that barred New York City from restricting the retail sale of spray paint and permanent markers to those under 21 in an attempt to combat graffiti.

Most important, though, is that the age limit is inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller, which found that the Second Amendment protects the right of “all Americans” to keep and bear arms—handguns in particular—for self-defense. 

In its opinion, the Fifth Circuit held that the regulation barring dealer sales to those under 21 is “longstanding,” and as such is not a “burden upon the core right of self-defense protected by the Second Amendment,” that would require strict scrutiny. The court effectively placed the ban on retail sales of handguns to law-abiding young adults into the category of laws Heller recognized as constitutional, such as the prohibition of firearm possession by felons. In a wildly optimistic view of legislatures’ respect for individual rights, the court stated that “a longstanding measure that harmonizes the history and tradition of arms regulation in this country would not threaten the core of the Second Amendment guarantee.” 

The court goes on to say that the sales ban does “not severely burden the Second Amendment rights of 18-to-20-year-olds” because under Heller, “laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms… [are] presumptively lawful,” and that the law does not bar young adults from possessing handguns altogether. The judges also concluded that since the regulation has a “temporary effect” on young adults, little scrutiny of the regulation is required.

After the panel decision, the NRA sought to have the case heard before the entire court. However, on April 29, by a slim majority of 8-7, the Court declined to hear the case. In a passionate dissent offered by Judge Edith H. Jones and joined by five of her colleagues, Jones noted the “serious errors in the panel decision’s approach to the fundamental right to keep and bear arms” and described the prohibition on young adults as “class-based invidious discrimination against a group of largely law-abiding citizens.”

In another setback for young adults, the Fifth Circuit ruled May 20 to uphold Texas’ 21-year-old age limit for obtaining a concealed handgun license. As Texas does not allow for the unlicensed open carry of handguns, this amounts to a complete prohibition of those in that age group from bearing arms outside the home for self-defense. In the opinion in NRA v. McCraw, Judge Edith Brown Clement noted that the Fifth Circuit was bound by its decision in the earlier case on dealer purchases.

The NRA disagrees with the Fifth Circuit’s view that prohibitions on young adults purchasing and carrying the means of self-defense outside the home are insignificant burdens on the Second Amendment right, and that laws restricting these activities require a lesser level of scrutiny than those laws pertaining to gun ownership in the home by those over 21. Citizens considered adult enough to exercise other fundamental rights, such as the right to vote, who are also subject to serious responsibilities, such as registering for Selective Service, should be able to enjoy their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. In hopes of restoring the rights of young adults in the Lone Star State and across the country, we filed a petition on June 3 seeking review by the full Fifth Circuit.

TRENDING NOW
Virginia: Gun Control Tops New Governor’s Agenda

News  

Friday, January 12, 2018

Virginia: Gun Control Tops New Governor’s Agenda

This week, Virginia Governor McAuliffe and Governor-Elect Ralph Northam outlined their top priorities for the upcoming legislative session, and highlighted expanded background checks for all firearm sales and other transfers (so-called “universal” background checks) as ...

Democrats' Exciting New Hope Adheres to Tired Old Anti-Gun Dogma

News  

Friday, January 12, 2018

Democrats' Exciting New Hope Adheres to Tired Old Anti-Gun Dogma

Democrats searching for a standard-bearer in the 2020 presidential election lit on long-time entertainment, media, and publishing figure Oprah Winfrey this week, following a speech Winfrey gave at a televised Hollywood extravaganza.

Washington: Senate Law & Justice Committee to Hear Anti-Gun Bills Next Monday

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Washington: Senate Law & Justice Committee to Hear Anti-Gun Bills Next Monday

On Monday, January 15th at 10:00AM, the Senate Law & Justice Committee is scheduled to hear multiple anti-gun bills.  Testimony will be limited during the hearing, so all NRA members and Second Amendment supporters are strongly ...

Washington: Substitute Versions of Gun Control Bills to Be Heard

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Washington: Substitute Versions of Gun Control Bills to Be Heard

Last night, anti-gun legislators introduced substitute bills for Senate Bill 5444 and Senate Bill 5463.  These substituted versions will replace the original bills that are scheduled for a public hearing on Monday, January 15th. NRA remains opposed ...

Washington: Trigger Modification Ban Passes Committee

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Washington: Trigger Modification Ban Passes Committee

Earlier today, the Washington state Senate Law & Justice Committee passed Senate Bill 5992 out of committee with a 4-3 vote. As drafted, this legislation has overreaching language that would ban modifications commonly made to ...

Indiana: Gun Bills Filed

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Indiana: Gun Bills Filed

With the 2018 Indiana legislative session underway, a number of bills affecting your Second Amendment and hunting rights have been filed.

Eighteen States, Law Enforcement, Doctors, and Firearm Rights Groups File Amicus Briefs in Lawsuit Challenging California 10+ Magazine Ban

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Eighteen States, Law Enforcement, Doctors, and Firearm Rights Groups File Amicus Briefs in Lawsuit Challenging California 10+ Magazine Ban

On Friday, January 12, several amicus briefs were filed in the NRA and CRPA supported lawsuit challenging California’s restrictions against magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. The lawsuit, titled Duncan v. Becerra, challenges California’s ...

Washington: Gun Control Bill Scheduled for Vote in House Judiciary

Friday, January 12, 2018

Washington: Gun Control Bill Scheduled for Vote in House Judiciary

Next Thursday, January 18th, House Bill 1122 is scheduled for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee. Introduced by Representative Ruth Kagi (D-34) in 2017, HB 1122 received a public hearing last year and a ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Unhappy New Year for California Gun Owners

News  

Friday, January 5, 2018

Unhappy New Year for California Gun Owners

While most of America was busy preparing to celebrate the New Year, gun owners in California were scrambling to lawfully purchase ammunition while they still could. Beginning January 1, all ammunition sales were required go ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.