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Federal Judge Rules Ban On Handgun Sales to 18- to 20-Year-Olds Unconstitutional

Federal Judge Rules Ban On Handgun Sales to 18- to 20-Year-Olds Unconstitutional

A federal judge has struck down an attempt by the Biden administration to ban the sale of handguns to 18- to 20-year-old individuals.

Judge Thomas Kleeh, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, outlined in his 40-page decision that the ban is unconstitutional, relying heavily on the Supreme Court’s ruling last year in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Assoc., Inc. v Bruen case.

As Kleeh detailed, the Bruen decision also rejected a “means-end scrutiny” defense used to justify gun control laws — the Court effectively ruled that the State’s interest in what it deems public safety measures cannot override an individual’s constitutional rights under the Second Amendment.

“To justify its regulation, the government may not simply posit that the regulation promotes an important interest. Rather, the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” the Supreme Court opinion held.

Kleeh wrote, “Defendants generally miss the point and Plaintiffs’ injury is clear. Plaintiffs do not dispute that 18-to-20-year-olds who are law-abiding adults and not otherwise banned from firearm possession are not prohibited from possessing handguns.”

The judge also underscored the unconstitutionality of the law by saying: “Defendants have not presented any evidence of age-based restrictions on the purchase or sale of firearms from before or at the founding or during the early republic. Defendants have likewise failed to offer evidence of similar regulation between then and 1791 or in a relevant timeframe thereafter. For that reason alone, defendants have failed to meet the burden imposed by Bruen.”

Gun rights advocates hailed the decision as a win.

“This is a huge victory for Second Amendment rights, especially for young adults,” said Adam Kraut, Executive Director for the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), which brought the lawsuit on behalf of Robert Brown and Benjamin Weekley.

“The Biden Justice Department argued that people in this age group were not adults, which was patently ludicrous,” he added. “The government simply could not defend the constitutionality of the handgun prohibition, and Judge Kleeh’s ruling makes that clear.”

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