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NRA Defeat: Texas Teens Still Can't Carry Concealed Guns

WASHINGTON -- U.S. District Court Judge Sam Cummings in Lubbock, Texas last week dismissed the National Rifle Association’s challenge to a Texas law prohibiting teens and young adults 18-20 years old from carrying concealed weapons in public, in the case Jennings v. McCraw.

The Brady Center filed an amicus brief defending the Texas law.  The Student Government and Graduate Student Assembly of the University of Texas at Austin joined the Brady Center on the brief on behalf of the campus’ 62,000 students, along with the Texas organizations Mothers Against Teen Violence, the Texas Chapters of the Brady Campaign, and Students for Gun-Free Schools in Texas.

“We are pleased the court rejected the NRA’s extreme claim that the Second Amendment means that we must allow armed teens on our streets,” said Daniel Vice, Senior Attorney at the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project.  “This ruling follows those from more than a dozen other courts around the country that have held there is no right to carry loaded guns in our communities, parks and playgrounds.”

Judge Cummings was noted in the “gun rights” community for his decision declaring an individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment years before the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision endorsing such a right. In this case, however, he found that "the Second Amendment does not confer a right that extends beyond the home" and that "Texas has identified a legitimate state interest—public safety—and passed legislation that is rationally related to addressing that issue."

This ruling follows a string of legal victories for gun control in the last week, with three courts rejecting gun lobby lawsuits challenging laws restricting the public carrying of guns in California and New Jersey and challenging a federal rule to curb gun trafficking along the Mexico border.

The NRA originally filed this case on behalf of teenager James D’Cruz.  The NRA withdrew D’Cruz from the case after the Brady Center released pictures and postings from D’Cruz’s Facebook page. The youth dressed in a black suit and hat reminiscent of John Dillinger, holding what appears to be a machine gun or assault weapon.  Many of his postings reflected his fascination with gangsters and outlaws, often quoting them, and included violent, threatening messages, such as these:

"Death is but a doorway," October 6 at 5:28pm

"After hunting men, nothing can compare," December 26, 2009 at 5:47pm

"the match is lit and it will burn all of us now," September 25 at 12:06pm

"in this field of hundreds begging for their lives, we shall spare none," August 9 at 11:38am

"There is no redemption, There is no forgiveness. I will stare into your eyes as I pull the trigger and laugh as you hit the ground with your last, pathetic breath."  April 1

The Brady Center’s brief in Jennings v. McCraw cited studies showing that young persons under 21 often lack the same ability as adults to “govern impulsivity, judgment, planning for the future, and foresight of consequences.” People aged 18-20 fall within the age range of offenders with the highest rates of homicide and criminal gun possession.

Last Thursday, in a ruling affecting thousands of high-firepower rifle sales in Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico, United States District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, in Washington, D.C. dismissed a gun lobby challenge to an Obama Administration rule requiring that gun dealers in the Southwest border states notify law enforcement of bulk sales of semi-automatic rifles, such as AK-47 assault rifles. The court agreed with an amicus brief filed by the Brady Center that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) had authority to promulgate the rule.

Last Friday, in California, a federal judge upheld Los Angeles County’s strong concealed carry laws, agreeing with an amicus brief filed by the Brady Center in Birdt v. Beck.   Also last Friday, a federal judge upheld New Jersey’s strong restrictions on the public carrying of guns, throwing out the Second Amendment Foundation’s lawsuit challenging those restrictions, and agreeing with the Brady Center’s amicus brief.

These legal decisions follow recent rulings by at least a dozen other courts around the nation declaring that the Second Amendment right to possess firearms is limited to the home, many of which are discussed in a Brady Center report, Hollow Victory? The report reviews hundreds of cases and finds that the courts overwhelmingly have rejected the gun lobby’s challenges.

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