Background checks were passed by both the gunmen who committed the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde in Texas. It’s likely that neither of the mass shooters had any criminal convictions or mental issues. It was therefore puzzling to see politicians demand a heightened federal background check for gun buyers in response to mass shootings.
Proposals to raise the purchase age of long guns to 18 seem to have some connection to the Uvalde and Buffalo attacks. Both shooters were only 18. It is difficult to reconcile that policy with the Second Amendment, unless one assumes that only 18- to 20-year-olds have constitutional rights to own and bear arms. The two federal appeals courts have rejected the proposition. They cited a long history of gun ownership among young adults.
For federally licensed dealers, the minimum age to buy handguns is 21. Private handgun sales and purchases of rifles or shotguns are not covered by this rule. Federal law requires that both the buyer be at least 18 years old to purchase handguns from federally licensed dealers. Some states have added age restrictions. New York is one example. To legally possess a handgun, residents must be at least 21. 18 years of age to purchase long guns. New Jersey has similar rules.
New York’s Gov. Kathy Hochul (Democrat) said last week that she supported tightening age restrictions in her state. How does an 18 year old purchase an AR-15 in New York State? [or the]Texas” “State of Texas?” she inquired. She said, “That person is not allowed to purchase legal drinks. This is something I would like to see changed. It must be 21. That’s common sense.
New York bans all sales of assault weapons to civilians regardless of age. This ban covers semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines that have any one of the prohibited features such as a folding grip, pistol grip, bayonet mount or threaded barrel. Even though they have the prohibited features, guns without them are legal. They can fire the same ammunition at the exact same rates and with the same muzzle velocity.
The online manifesto police attributed the Buffalo shooter to states that the Bushmaster XM-15 rifle he purchased was legally legal because it came with a fixed magazine. That modification was easily reversed by the shooter, who transformed a legally-issued rifle into an illegal “assault weapon”. Practically, this change allowed him to carry detachable magazines. Other workarounds are possible, including replacing the adjustable stock with an fixed one or the pistol grip with either a Thordsen or spur grip. This allows New Yorkers legal to buy and possess rifles functionally identical with those banned by New York’s “assault weapons” ban.
Hochul clearly wants to make a minimum 21-year-old purchase age for “featureless rifles.” It’s unclear how this category will be defined. This could apply only to AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles such as the Bushmaster XM-15. Or it could include all semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines. Hochul stated that she doesn’t believe 18-year olds should have guns. However, the broad rule Hochul has in her mind could be more expansive and encompass all shotguns as well.
It would also be similar to the Gov. Phil Murphy (a Democrat) wants the same thing in New Jersey. New Jersey already has an “assault weapons” ban. Murphy is in favor of raising the minimum age to purchase firearms in New Jersey from 21.
California has been prohibiting the sale handguns to anyone under 21 since long. Recently, California expanded this prohibition to include all semi-automatic centerfire rifles. The U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit ruled that the new rule violated the Second Amendment. However, it also upheld a separate law that required 18- to 20-year-olds with hunting licenses to purchase long guns.
In America and England, there has been an in-house three-judge court for hundreds of years. Jones v. BontaCitizen as young as 16 years old were encouraged to become militia members and possess their weapons. The Second Amendment, which mentions a “well-regulated militia”, was understood to have included adult males over 18 years of age at the time it was ratified. The Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment is only applicable if the militia definition has been established.
This case was the most important in 2008. District of Columbia v. HellerThe Court rejected however the notion that the “right of the people to keep, bear arms” was limited to militia duty, and said it included the right to have guns in common for lawful purposes, such as self defense. In JonesU.S. District judge M. James Lorenz employed a militia-only argument in rejecting a motion to halt California’s ban against selling semi-automatic weapons to youths. Lorenz explained that, unlike older adults, the 18-to-20 year-olds have no individual right to use armed self defense.
This claim, according to Judge Ryan Nelson of the 9th Circuit was not consistent with Supreme Court Second Amendment precedents. “The main premises of the district court have been rejected,” judge Ryan Nelson stated in his majority opinion. The right is NotCondiments for service in the militia. This was, in fact, the position taken by the dissidents. HellerThe Court rejected the request.”
California also mentioned state laws that were enacted during the 19th century and prohibited firearm sales to anyone younger than 21 years old. According to the 9th Circuit, this record is insufficient to support California’s age restrictions.
Nelson wrote that “We identify 28 such state laws between 1856-1897.” Nelson wrote, “From these laws, nineteen prohibited sales of pistols to minors and several others.”
Only parental consent and hunting were exempted. The non-pistol bans only applied for minors below fifteen years of age, and required either parental consent or both. Eighteen states have banned all firearms and deadly or dangerous weapons from minors.
The Supreme Court applied the Bill of Rights only to the 14th Amendment states until the 1920s. It did not apply it with the Second Amendment till 2010. However, several state constitutions provided protections similar to that of the Second Amendment.
Nelson stated that “The Reconstruction-era laws showed long guns were much less regulated than handguns.” Other state laws are not applicable.
We have five laws left: the law that requires parental consent; bans dangerous and deadly weapons and applies only to children younger than fifteen years of age.
Total bans of selling firearms to minors These five laws were all passed by states that did not have a Second Amendment analog. So only two states—Kentucky and Michigan—banned the sale of firearms to minors and had a Second Amendment analog. These two laws—both passed over a decade after the
ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment—cannot contravene the Second Amendment’s original public meaning.”
The 9th Circuit stated that “our historical analysis led us to conclude young adults have a Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arm.” It is now up to the 9th Circuit to determine whether California’s age restrictions on this right are constitutionally permissible. Lorenz stated that even assuming young people have this right, California’s law easily passes “intermediate scrutiny”, which is required to ensure that a law meets a government interest.
Lorenz had applied intermediate scrutiny, according to the 9th Circuit. It stated that strict scrutiny is the correct test. This requires that any challenged law must be narrowly tailored to protect a “compelling government interest.” California’s law states that “only law enforcement officers” and military active-duty servicemembers can purchase semiautomatic guns from young adults. That is, it was a blanket ban that applies to everyone but police officers, servicemembers, and we have never seen that apply to intermediate scrutiny.
A ban on the sale of major categories of firearms.
The 9th Circuit stated that California’s law combined with its ban on young adult handgun sales leaves shotguns to be the best option for self-defense in the house. It stated that although shotguns can be used for self defense in the home, semiautomatic rifles outmatch them in certain situations. Semiautomatic guns can be defeated by modern body armor. They have a greater range than shotguns.
These considerations led the 9th Circuit to conclude that California’s law is “extremely burdensome” on the Second Amendment right of self defense in the United States.
home.” It stated that this burden is not justified by strict scrutiny and it fails to pass even intermediate scrutiny.
California said that California’s age restrictions were “reasonable” given the high likelihood of violent crimes committed by young people. The state noted that young adults were three times more likely than others to be charged with homicide or manslaughter.
Nelson noted that this comparison ignores the fact “only 0.2% of young adults are charged with violent crime.” This means that California’s law arrests 400 more young people than it should (100% divided by 0.25%). Appeal court pointed out that the law “regulates so many conducts than it is necessary in order to accomplish its goals” which makes it unlikely that California will find the law reasonable to meet their objectives.
The core issue of whether the Second Amendment applies for young adults was addressed by the U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit in its 2021 decision. Hirschfeld v. ATF. There was a federal law which prohibited licensed dealers from selling handguns for sale to minors under 21. The 4th Circuit stated that “Our most treasured constitutional rights are not available to anyone younger than 18 years old.” “The Second Amendment’s rights to bear and keep arms are no exception.”
The case was eventually thrown out by the Court because of the fact that the plaintiff had turned 21. The 4th Circuit still has relevance in the assessment of the constitutionality and legality of age-restrictions like the ones favored by Hochul & Murphy.
According to the 4th Circuit, “We find for the first time that 18-years-olds have Second Amendment rights.” They have almost all other rights, but they had to be able to join the militia at the founding of America and provide their weapons. Like California’s legislature to justify the restriction on handgun sale, Congress used disproportionate crime rates in crafting over-inclusive laws that restricted the rights of an overwhelming number law-abiding citizens.
The 4th Circuit also noted that Congress focused only on the purchase of licensed dealers, without making it clear who the dealers were. This would prove difficult, as research shows that criminals often obtain firearms from different sources. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that only 8% of all federal and state prison inmates who have used firearms said they bought them from gun shops.
The appeals court stated that “we hold that the challenged Federal laws and regulations were unconstitutional under Section 2 Amendment.” “Despite our great interest in decreasing crime and violence, it is not possible for us to assign the Second Amendment to an 18- or 20-year old to second-class status.
There is no doubt that young adults have constitutional rights like the freedom to speak, religion and due process. Also, there are prohibitions on unreasonable searches or seizures. Hochul also cites alcohol restrictions, but 18-20 year-olds can still vote, marry and join the military. They are allowed to sign contracts and be independent. Young adults cannot be sold firearms. This is not an exception to this general rule. It also means that the Bill of Rights will not normally apply to them.
The argument made based upon crime statistics could be used to justify raising the minimum age for purchasing a car beyond 21. For example, the national murder and manslaughter arrest rate is slightly lower for 21-to-24-year olds than for 18-to-20 year-olds, but nearly four times that for Americans over 25 years. Even higher than the 18-to-20 year-olds is the arrest rate for aggravated attack among 21-to-24-yearolds.
The argument that young adults cannot be trusted with guns is similar. The journal published a 2013 study. Neuropsychiatric Disorder and Its TreatmentThe prefrontal cortex matures and develops primarily in the adolescence, and it is complete at age 25. This is an argument that young adults should not be allowed to have guns. The military must seriously reconsider its recruitment practices.
Of course they won’t do that and their current approach is in line with the history the 9th Circuit or the 4th Circuit highlighted in their decisions. For centuries citizen militias and possess relied on young people who, in most cases, were allowed and required to have guns for such purposes. This history, in turn illuminates the original public understanding and application of the Second Amendment. It seems to be inconsistent with political figures like Hochul, Murphy, who advocate age discrimination.