By: George William
In a decision by the Fourth Circuit, the court argues that the ability for 18-20 year olds ability to buy a handgun is protected by the second amendment.
“Our nation’s most cherished constitutional rights vest no later than 18,” Judge Julius N. Richardson wrote for the court, with Judge G. Steven Agee concurring. “And the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms is no different.”
In the ruling, the judges acknowledged the purpose behind such laws curbing ownership to younger people given the threat of gang violence. “We appreciate the seriousness of gun violence in this country and applaud Congress’s laudable desire to curb senseless violence,” it said in the ruling. “But we also recognize that the Second Amendment embodies a fundamental, pre-existing right that enables ‘the people’ to preserve their own life, liberty, and property.”
On determining what the age of adulthood is and how that applies, the judges looked at what it has been historically. “History makes clear that 18- to 20-year-olds were understood to fall under the Second Amendment’s protections,” the court said in the ruling. “Those over 18 were universally required to be part of the militia near the ratification, proving that they were considered part of ‘the people’ who enjoyed Second Amendment rights, and most other constitutional rights apply to this age group. And Congress may not restrict the rights of an entire group of law-abiding adults because a minuscule portion of that group commits a disproportionate amount of gun violence.”
“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,” said Judge James A. Wynn who dissented. “Nor is it consistent with the proper role of the federal judiciary in our democratic system.”
Judge Wynn continued, “The Second Amendment is exceptional not because it is uniquely oppressed or imperiled, but rather because it is singularly capable of causing harm,” he wrote. “As other courts have recognized, while there are dangers inherent in other constitutionally protected rights—like the rights to speak and assemble—the Second Amendment alone protects a direct and lethal right to endanger oneself and others.”