A federal judge on Friday struck down the Biden administration’s effort to ban adults between the ages of 18 and 20 from buying handguns.
Judge Thomas Kleeh, an appointee of former President Donald Trump and Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, ruled in the case of Steven Robert Brown and Benjamin Weekley, who were banned from buying guns under the administration’s edict, according to Breitbart.
The ruling said that “Plaintiffs’ conduct — the purchase of handguns — ‘fall[s] [within] the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command’ and the challenged statutes and regulations are not ‘consistent with the Nation’s historic tradition of firearm regulation,’” and that a rule barring Brown and Weekley from buying handguns was “facially unconstitutional and as applied to Plaintiffs.”
The decision relied heavily on the standard set by the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association Inc. vs. Bruen that required any gun control law to have its roots in the historical tradition of firearms regulation.
Kleeh noted that under Bruen, ‘‘To justify its regulation, the government may not simply posit that the regulation promotes an important interest.”
He added that ‘‘the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with the Nation’s historic tradition of firearm regulation. Only if a firearm regulation is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition may a court conclude that the individual’s conduct falls outside the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command.’”
The judge rejected the federal government’s argument that the parents of the two plaintiffs could buy guns for them to use.
“Defendants generally miss the point and Plaintiffs’ injury is clear. Plaintiffs do not dispute that 18-to-20-year-olds who are law-abiding adults and not otherwise banned from firearm possession are not prohibited from possessing handguns. Brown and Weekley’s injury prompting the filing of this suit is that they cannot purchase handguns and handgun ammunition from FFLs as a result of the age-based ban,” the judge wrote.
“Defendants’ specific arguments are likewise unavailing. First, the suggestion Plaintiffs suffer no injury because a parent or guardian can simply purchase the gun and give it to an 18- to 20-year-old overly minimizes Plaintiffs’ plight,” he wrote.
“Deprivation of a constitutional right is a deprivation and, necessarily, an injury in fact, no matter if an ‘easy’ and lawful work-around exists. Moreover, the Supreme Court of the United States previously rejected the Government’s reasoning in a different context,” he wrote.
Kleeh said that under the current standard, Americans have the right to have guns until the government can prove differently, which it did not in this case.
“If the normal and ordinary meaning of the Second Amendment’s text protects the individual’s proposed course of conduct, which the Court finds to be the case here, then the Amendment ‘presumptively guarantees’ the individual’s right related to firearms, and the burden falls on the Government to justify the challenged regulation. Bruen, 142 S. Ct. at 2135. The Government bears the burden to show that the law is ‘consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,’” he wrote.
“Defendants have not presented any evidence of age-based restrictions on the purchase or sale of firearms from before or at the Founding or during the Early Republic. Defendants have likewise failed to offer evidence of similar regulation between then and 1791 or in a relevant timeframe thereafter. For that reason alone, Defendants have failed to meet the burden imposed by Bruen,” Kleeh wrote.
“This is a huge victory for Second Amendment rights, especially for young adults,” Adam Kraut, executive director of the Second Amendment Foundation, said on the group’s website.
“The Biden Justice Department argued that people in this age group were not adults, which was patently ludicrous. The government simply could not defend the constitutionality of the handgun prohibition, and Judge Kleeh’s ruling makes that clear,” he said.
“There was never any historical evidence supporting this arbitrary ban on the purchase and ownership of handguns by young adults,” foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb said.
“As we maintained all along, history goes in the opposite direction. At that age historically, young adults were considered mature enough to serve in the militia, the military and take on other responsibilities. We’re delighted with the judge’s ruling.”
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