On Monday, the National Rifle Associated filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that it strike the 1968 law banning federally licensed dealers from selling handguns and handgun ammunition to individuals between the ages of 18 and 21. The appeal was filed by the NRA and two nineteen-year-olds.
Currently, the sale of handguns by licensed dealers is federally restricted from anyone under 21. Adults between the ages of 18 and 21 can, however, lawfully obtain handguns through other means, such as from private owners or as gifts. Additionally, individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 may lawfully purchase shotguns and rifles from federally licensed dealers. But the NRA petition argues that the restriction on handgun sales is unnecessary and unlawful.
“Because everyone who sells firearms on anything even approaching a regular basis must be federally licensed, this restriction precludes law abiding adults under the age of 21 from purchasing handguns from the most common (and logical) sources,” the filing reads. “This categorical burden on the fundamental right to keep and bear arms passes constitutional muster because law-abiding young adults likely do not possess Second Amendment rights at all.”
This is the second time the 1968 law has been challenged by the NRA. The group filed a similar petition in 2010, which was rejected in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in 2012, with the court maintaining that the age restriction was “consistent with a longstanding tradition of targeting groups’ ability to access and use arms for the sake of public safety.”
At the time, Judge Edward Prado justified the court’s decision to uphold the law restricting firearm sales to individuals under 21, saying that “Congress found that they tend to be relatively immature and that denying them easy access to handguns would deter violent crime.”