Monumental Victory for Gun Rights in 4th Circuit Ruling

A ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals declaring the ban on handgun sales to young adults in the 18-20-year age group to be unconstitutional is a monumental victory for Second Amendment rights. (Read the Opinion from Judge Julius N. Richardson here).

Judge Richardson, writing for the majority, observed, “Looking through this historical lens to the text and structure of the Constitution reveals that 18- to 20-year-olds have Second Amendment rights. Virtually every other constitutional right applies whatever the age. Our nation’s most cherished constitutional rights vest no later than 18. And the Second Amendment is no different.”

We first find that 18-year-olds possess Second Amendment rights. They enjoy almost every other constitutional right, and they were required at the time of the Founding to serve in the militia and furnish their own weapons. We then ask, as our precedent requires, whether the government has met its burden to justify its infringement of those rights under the appropriate level of scrutiny. To justify this restriction, Congress used disproportionate crime rates to craft over- inclusive laws that restrict the rights of overwhelmingly law-abiding citizens. And in doing so, Congress focused on purchases from licensed dealers without establishing those dealers as the source of the guns 18- to 20-year-olds use to commit crimes. So we hold that the challenged federal laws and regulations are unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. [Editor: emphasis added] Despite the weighty interest in reducing crime and violence, we refuse to relegate either the Second Amendment or 18- to 20-year-olds to a second-class status.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is one of twelve regional appellate courts within the federal judicial system. The court hears appeals from the nine federal district courts in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and from federal administrative agencies. What does this mean to us in Louisiana? The 4th Circuit opinion does not affect a similar law in Louisiana that denies young adults 18-to-20-years-old  their constitutional right to purchase a handgun. However, LSA has filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. In fact, there are similar cases pending in Louisiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Washington, California, Minnesota and other states that this Fourth Circuit ruling could directly impact.

The importance of common-sense decisions such as Judge Richardson’s cannot be over-stated.

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