Federal Judge Slaps Down Laws Barring 18- To 20-Year-Olds From Buying Handguns

Second Amendment

A Virginia federal judge struck down several laws Wednesday that barred 18- to 20-year-olds from buying handguns from licensed firearm dealers, ruling that the laws violate the Second Amendment.

The plaintiff, John “Corey” Fraser, filed suit after being denied access to purchase a handgun from a federally-licensed dealer when he was 20 years old, according to the 71-page opinion. U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne of Richmond, Virginia, appointed by former President George H.W. Bush, declared the statutes and regulations unconstitutional, as they violated the Second Amendment.

“Because the statutes and regulations in question are not consistent with our Nation’s history and tradition, they, therefore, cannot stand,” Payne’s opinion read. (RELATED: MSNBC Analyst Wants Police ‘Turning Their Back’ On Republicans Over Gun Control)

In the lawsuit, Fraser challenged the constitutionality of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives’ (ATF) federal regulations.

“We’re pleased the court ruled in favor of Mr. Fraser and the other named plaintiffs in such well written and thorough decision,” the plaintiff’s attorney, Elliott Harding, told The Washington Post. “Even though it ensures that future buyers can now purchase these firearms in the federal system, one that includes background checks and other requirements, we expect the defendants will appeal. Nevertheless, we remain optimistic that the decision will be affirmed in due course.”


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – APRIL 15: Guests check out pistols at the Sig Sauer display at the National Rifle Association’s Annual Meetings & Exhibits at the Indiana Convention Center on April 15, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The convention, which is expected to draw around 70,000 guests, opened yesterday and runs through Sunday. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In his decision, Payne repeatedly cited a Supreme Court opinion from New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, written by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas last year, that bolstered the Second Amendment, according to the opinion.

“Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them,” Thomas wrote.

Payne decided that though the “age of majority” was 21-years-old when the Constitution was written, the fact that an individual had to be 18-years-old to join the militia was more prominent, according to the opinion.

“It is not at all clear that the age of majority at the Founding is the appropriate measure for measuring the reach of the Second Amendment,” Payne wrote. “No federal appellate court, much less the Supreme Court, has squarely determined that the Second Amendment’s rights vest at age 21.”

Neither Harding nor ATF immediately responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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