A federal judge in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned a Virginia federal judge’s ruling upholding the federal Gun Control Act of 1968.
The decision by the judge strikes down the law that prevents federally licensed firearms dealers from selling handguns or handgun ammunition to adults under the age of 21 — allowing 18-year-olds to purchase handguns.
“When do constitutional rights vest? At 18 or 21? 16 or 25? Why not 13 or 33? In the law, a line must sometimes be drawn. But there must be a reason why constitutional rights cannot be enjoyed until a certain age. Our nation’s most cherished constitutional rights vest no later than 18. And the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms is no different,” US Circuit Judge Julius Richardson said in his opinion.
The ruling by the judge has led organizations to ask questions about the potential ramifications of state gun laws throughout the country.
Specifically, in Tennessee, the state legislature and governor recently enacted a law that allows individuals age 21 and up to engage in “constitutional carry” — carrying a firearm without a permit.
Gun rights groups throughout the state have pointed to the age limit and argued it to be an unfair restriction. After the bill was passed, the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) sued the state of Tennessee to challenge the constitutionality of the law. The group filed on behalf of three Tennessean men ages 18, 19, and 20. The lawsuit argues that the law excludes an entire class of law-abiding adults because it doesn’t apply to adults under 21 years old.
Further, the Tennessee Firearms Association asked what impact the federal ruling will have on the new state law.
“If the Fourth Circuit’s analysis is correct that those 18 and up have rights that are protected by the 2nd Amendment from government infringement, then isn’t this statutory scheme in Tennessee just another massive infringement on the rights of citizens?”
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