Handgun ban ruled unconstitutional? Yes – unless you're 19 years old.

With the decisions in Heller and McDonald now in the books, you could be forgiven for thinking that absolute bans on handgun ownership in this country are now safely considered unconstitutional. And, for the record, you’d be right – as long as you’re not talking about an individual aged 18-20 years. Under federal law, otherwise completely law-abiding citizens considered to be adults by virtue of their having turned 18 years old who just happen to be shy of their 21st birthday are not permitted to legally purchase a handgun. This outrageous situation has finally been challenged in court:

The NRA is challenging federal laws that prohibit law-abiding Americans 18-20 years of age from legally purchasing a handgun through a federally licensed firearm dealer. The case was filed Tuesday evening in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas Lubbock Division. James D’Cruz of Lubbock, TX is the plaintiff in this case.

“In Heller and McDonald, the U.S. Supreme Court clearly stated that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for all law-abiding Americans,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “That right is not limited only to Americans 21 years of age and older. Indeed, throughout our nation’s history, adults beginning at age 18 have served in the military and fought for this country with honor. But while the Supreme Court has consistently made clear that the federal government cannot ban or unduly restrict sales of items protected by the Constitution, the federal government continues to prohibit these adults from purchasing handguns from federally licensed dealers, which represent the largest and most accessible means of purchasing handguns.”

This is an issue I’ve brought up here at HoodaThunk? several times, now. For some reason, special interests in this country have made it their goal to steadily erode the liberties of our younger adult citizens because they simply don’t trust them to be able to handle it. This is irrational mainly due to the haphazard way such restrictions get applied. In speaking of a Texas law that sought to criminalize any intimate relations between a teacher – of any school level – and a student – of any age – I asked the question: “What makes an adult in American?” I wrote:

The real question is who we consider to be adults. Adults are to be given the respect to make their own decisions, right or wrong. Adults are to be held accountable for the consequences of those decisions. Adults do not blame others for the consequences that accrue as a result of their own decisions. So, if a 13-year-old isn’t an adult but a 43-year-old is, when did the line get crossed? 40? 35? 30? In the 20′s somewhere? No, the answer to that is already on record. It’s 18. At 18 years of age a citizen of this country is considered an adult in the eyes of the law. That person can enter into contracts without the permission of anyone else. That person can sign legally binding documents that require them to pay for something (a house, or the balance on a credit card), that require someone else to pay them (an employment contract), and to engage in the defense of this nation. In fact, the only thing an 18-year-old citizen can’t do legally that I, as a 43-year-old citizen, can is walk into a bar and order a beer.

Turns out I was wrong. They can’t buy a beer or a handgun, apparently. And that’s a travesty. The 20-year-old engineer riding the Metro next to me this week, looking ahead at reporting for duty in the US Army in January, will be entrusted with the defense of this nation. He’s given a vote that he’ll use for just the 2nd time in his life this November when he casts his ballot for his preferred candidate. He’s filed his own taxes for 2 years running, now, with no one else’s name on the form. The employment documents he signed last year with his firm are protected by the full power of our laws against the potential fraudulent behavior of either side, him or his company. He is fully liable for the compliance of his behavior with our laws. And in just under 6 months, he’ll be inducted into our military and handed a weapon more powerful than any I am permitted to own and carry.

I couldn’t even buy him a round as a going-away present.

And he can’t buy a gun for his own defense, living alone without any support of family.

It is past time that such ridiculous restrictions on the liberties of our younger citizens should be swept away. Rather than fret and wring one’s hands over how immature 19 and 20-year-olds are and bemoan how they just can’t be trusted with such decisions as drinking and exercising their Constitutional rights, it’s time to start expecting them to be up to the task of either. We insist on their stepping up to the responsibilities in all other things. We need to put our principles ahead of our fears and extend them the trust that goes along with the law. They are adults, regardless of how any of us, individually, considers them. As adults, they have the reasonable expectation of having their rights respected by the rest of us. Are we up to the challenge?