NRA Explore
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
Not The Victim Hillary Needs

News  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Not The Victim Hillary Needs

This feature appears in the October ‘16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association. “Why can’t everyone just have their DNA on file? Then it would ...

California: Governor Brown Takes Action on Final Firearm-Related Bills

Monday, September 26, 2016

California: Governor Brown Takes Action on Final Firearm-Related Bills

Today, Governor Brown made his decision on the final firearm-related bills of the 2016 legislative session that made it to his desk.   Governor Brown vetoed two anti-gun bills, AB 450 and SB 1332, and signed ...

California: Referendum Update

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

California: Referendum Update

On behalf of the National Rifle Association (NRA), we would like to thank all of the volunteers and individuals who participated in the Veto Gunmageddon ballot referendum qualification effort.  Despite the tremendous efforts of all involved, ...

Hillary: Contempt For The Truth And American Freedom

News  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hillary: Contempt For The Truth And American Freedom

There is no greater danger to American liberty and to the security of our nation than a Hillary Clinton administration. To see the future if Clinton were to take the White House, look no further ...

Trump: The Official NRA Q&A

News  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trump: The Official NRA Q&A

This year’s race for the White House is like no other in our history. Hillary Clinton has made it clear that, if elected, she will come after our firearm freedoms on her very first day ...

Trump Vows To Protect The Second Amendment

News  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trump Vows To Protect The Second Amendment

Never before has there been such a stark contrast between presidential candidates over the future of the Second Amendment. With Donald Trump, the nation’s firearm owners have a true champion who has repeatedly pledged to ...

Help Us Get the Second Amendment in the Presidential Debate

News  

Friday, September 30, 2016

Help Us Get the Second Amendment in the Presidential Debate

Have you ever wanted to personally address the candidates during a presidential debate? Find yourself yelling questions at the moderators through your TV? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. But now, you can actually do something ...

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.

Reports: N.J. School Officials Suspend Student Over Pro-Gun Presentation

News  

Friday, September 30, 2016

Reports: N.J. School Officials Suspend Student Over Pro-Gun Presentation

The general stifling of academic freedom reared its ugly head again this week, as reports from NJ.com and News12 New Jersey detailed the story of a New Jersey high schooler who was suspended for his ...

News  

Friday, July 1, 2016

California Governor Signs Draconian Gun Control Package into Law

Fairfax, Va.— California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on Friday a package of gun bills that were rushed through the state legislature with no regard for proper process. The National Rifle Association Institute for ...

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.