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Federal judge strikes down law barring gun sales to young adults
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Federal judge strikes down law barring gun sales to young adults

A federal judge in Virginia has ruled a law barring handgun sales to adults under age 21 unconstitutional, WAVY reported.

Like other rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, the Second Amendment protections "vest" prior to age 21, U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Payne wrote in his 71-page ruling Wednesday.

"If the Court were to exclude 18-to-20-year-olds from the Second Amendment’s protection, it would impose limitations on the Second Amendment that do not exist with other constitutional guarantees," the George H.W. Bush appointee also wrote.

The case, brought by John Corey Fraser, then 20, and others against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, stemmed from Fraser's attempt to purchase a Glock 19x handgun from a federal firearms licensed dealer in May 2022. The FFL dealer, as the law demanded, refused the sale based on Fraser's age.

In his own ruling, Judge Payne repeatedly cited the United States Supreme Court's landmark 2022 decision in Bruen v. New York State Rifle & Pistol Association. According to the Bruen decision, a major victory for gun rights advocates, courts must evaluate the country's history and tradition of firearms regulation in rendering decisions about the constitutionality of a gun restriction, as noted by Fox News Digital.

Judge Payne found that the federal law keeping citizens ages 18, 19, and 20 from buying handguns did not comport with any such established history and tradition.

He laid out distinctions between the delayed privileges of adulthood such as alcohol and tobacco use and the right to keep and bear arms. The former, he said, involve no constitutionally protected right; therefore, legislatures can impose reasonable regulations on them. Restrictions on the latter, in contrast, should not be afforded such judicial deference.

Quoting the District of Columbia v. Heller decision, Judge Payne noted, "The Second Amendment 'is the very product of an interest balancing by the people' and it 'surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms' for self-defense."

In other words, the Second Amendment should be afforded the same respect as the others, whether the citizen is 18 or 118 years old.

"The government simply has not met its burden to support the finding that restrictions on the purchasing of firearms by 18-to-20-year-olds is part of our Nation's history and tradition."

"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," Elliott Harding, Fraser's attorney, told KUSA, adding he is optimistic that Judge Payne's will be upheld.

Judge Payne's decision would take effect when he issues his final order, which is expected in the next few weeks, according to the New York Times.
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