Judge strikes down gun control law

May 12, 2023
Robert Ayers

A federal judge has declared a federal law banning the sale of handguns to those under 21 years of age an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment, the Associated Press reports

The case, Fraser v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, is taking place in Virginia.

The presiding judge is Judge Robert Payne of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Payne is an appointee of former President George H.W. Bush.

Payne essentially ruled that the Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms" also belongs to people in the 18 to 21 age group.

The underlying facts

The case was initially brought by 20-year-old John Corey Fraser after a licensed public firearm dealer refused to allow him to purchase a Glock 19x. Several other plaintiffs, in similar situations, joined Fraser.

According to Fox News, the plaintiffs, in the ensuing lawsuit, argued that the "Gun Control Act of 1968 and subsequent regulations from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were unconstitutional because they excluded all adults under 21 from "exercising the right to keep and bear arms." Payne, in his ruling, agreed.

Citing the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen - in which the high court ruled that a court deciding a Second Amendment case must consider the "historical tradition of firearm regulation" - Payne noted that the government failed to provide "any evidence of age-based restrictions on the purchase or sale of firearms from the colonial era, Founding, or Early Republic."

From this fact, Payne inferred that the "Founders considered age-based regulations on the purchase of firearms to circumscribe the right to keep and bear arms confirmed by 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 wrote.

What now?

One thing to point out is that Payne is expected to issue his final order in the coming weeks, and, until he does, his decision will not take effect.

It is also worth noting that Payne's ruling will not impact similar state laws that prohibit those under 21 years of age from purchasing handguns. There are 19 states with such laws, according to Reuters.

Looking ahead, it is expected that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will appeal Payne's ruling.

However, the plaintiffs' attorney - Elliott Harding - is confident that Payne's ruling will hold up on appeal.

The Associated Press reports Harding as being "optimistic" that Payne's ruling will be affirmed.

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