LUBBOCK, Texas - A federal judge threw out the National Rifle Association's lawsuit challenging Texas' prohibiting 18-20 year olds from carrying concealed handguns.
U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings granted the state's motion for summary judgment.
"Texas has identified a legitimate state interest - public safety - and passed legislation that is rationally related to addressing that issue-the licensing scheme; thus, it acted within its constitutional powers and in accordance with the Equal Protection Clause," Cummings wrote.
Texas requires people to be 21 years old or older to get a concealed handgun permit, though younger members of the military and veterans are also eligible. The NRA and three people from 18 to 20 years old claimed the law violates their Second Amendment right to bear arms and their 14th Amendment right to equal protection.
But Cummings wrote: "the focus of the parties' briefing does not center on the breadth of the Second Amendment but rather on the question of at what age does the right to keep and bear arms vest. This approach puts the cart before the horse. Because the Court is of the opinion that the Second Amendment does not confer a right that extends beyond the home, it need not reach the question regarding the age of investiture of such a right."
On the equal protection claim, Cummings ruled that "the licensing scheme does not burden the fundamental right to bear arms. Neither does the licensing scheme target a suspect class. Traditionally, suspect class status is applied to a class that has been 'saddled with such disabilities, or subjected to such a history of purposeful unequal treatment, or relegated to such a position of political powerlessness as to command extraordinary protection from the majoritarian political process.'
"The Supreme Court has categorically rejected age as a suspect classification. Therefore, Texas 'may discriminate on the basis of age without offending the Fourteenth Amendment if the age classification in question is rationally related to a legitimate state interest.'" (Citations omitted.)
In a statement on its website, Daniel Vice, a senior attorney at the Brady Center's Legal Action Project, said: "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. 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."
The Brady Center filed an amicus brief in the case. Joining in the brief were The Student Government and Graduate Student Assembly of the University of Texas at Austin, Mothers Against Teen Violence, the Texas Chapters of the Brady Campaign and Students for Gun-Free Schools in Texas.