By: Konrad Holden
On Thursday, a federal appeals court handed down a ruling that declares prohibiting handgun sales to 18- to 20-year-olds is unconstitutional. The court ruled that there is no reason to restrict the gun rights of those under 21 because there is not sufficient evidence to justify the prohibition. This ruling strikes down a provision in the Gun Control Act of 1968.
The United States Appeals Court for the 4th District ruled 2-1 in favor of Tanner Hirschfeld and Natalia Marshall against the ATF. Both Hirschfeld and Marshall are law-abiding citizens who would normally be able to purchase a weapon if the age limit were not in place.
The majority opinion, written by Trump-appointed Judge Julius Richardson, said, “we refuse to relegate either the Second Amendment or 18- to 20-year-olds to a second-class status.” The decision also said that the federal government used disproportionate crime rates to justify the law even though 18- to 20-year-olds are overwhelmingly law-abiding citizens.
One of the 4th Circuit judges disagreed and wrote a dissenting opinion saying “The majority's decision to grant the gun lobby a victory in a fight it lost on Capitol Hill more than fifty years ago is not compelled by law.”
Natalia Marshall, one of the plaintiffs, initially tried to purchase a weapon after taking out a restraining order on an ex-boyfriend who had recently been arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm and drug crimes.
The ruling will most likely be appealed by the ATF and other gun control groups.
“I’m grateful to see the Fourth Circuit recognize the fundamental liberty to defend oneself extends to all adult citizens regardless of age.” - Elliott Harding, attorney representing the plaintiffs