The NRA is deeply disappointed in Thursday’s ruling by the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which upheld the federal law that bans dealer sales of handguns to law-abiding adults between the ages of 18 and 20.
The decision, in the case of National Rifle Association v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, involved a challenge to the law by several young adults, joined by the NRA on behalf of its members in the same age group. In our briefs, we pointed out that the age limit is inconsistent with the laws America’s founders passed, and with court decisions interpreting other constitutional rights such as the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.
Most important, though, is that the age limit is inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which found that the Second Amendment protects the right of “all Americans” to keep and bear arms—handguns in particular—for self-defense. But under the Fifth Circuit’s ruling, lawful young adults can only exercise the right to possess handguns by obtaining them through gifts or other transfers that are, ironically, far less regulated at the federal level than dealer sales.