US judge overturns Texas gun ban for young adults after Supreme Court ruling

By Jonathan Allen

(Reuters) – A federal judge in Texas on Thursday overturned the state’s ban on people between the ages of 18 and 20 carrying handguns in what appears to be the first major court decision since a landmark decision on the gun rights by the US Supreme Court in June.

The challenge to the Texas law that prohibits young adults who are not in active military service from carrying handguns in public was filed in 2021 by the Firearms Policy Coalition, an advocacy group for homeowners. fire arms. The group said the ban violated the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which states that states may organize militias and that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.

In June, the United States Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment guaranteed the individual right to bear arms in public for self-defense. The ruling also ordered the federal judiciary to apply a ‘historical only’ test when considering challenges to gun regulations, saying a regulation was constitutional only if it was similar to existing ones. in the 18th century when the Second Amendment was ratified.

Judge Mark Pittman of the U.S. District Court in Fort Worth ruled there was no historical tradition to prevent young adults from carrying guns in public in an opinion that repeatedly cited the court’s new ruling supreme.

The judge suspended his decision for 30 days to allow Texas to appeal.

Deeming the ban unconstitutional, Pittman wrote that “the undisputed historical evidence establishes that 18 to 20 year olds were considered part of the militia in the founding era”.

Lawyers for the Texas Attorney General’s office had unsuccessfully argued that there was a historical basis for determining who could carry guns based on age.

The age restriction applied only to the carrying of handguns; long guns can be purchased in Texas once a person turns 18, as was the case with the 18-year-old shooter who used a semi-automatic rifle to attack a school in Uvalde, Aus. Texas in May, killing 19 children and two teachers.

There was no immediate comment from the office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott or state Attorney General Ken Paxton, both Republicans.

Last year, Abbott signed a law that meant Texans over 21 no longer needed to be licensed or undergo background checks or training to carry a handgun.

Democratic leaders in the United States have denounced the United States Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen for making it much harder to regulate guns in a country where mass shootings have become a regular occurrence.

The Firearms Policy Coalition said it is challenging similar restrictions placed on young adults carrying guns in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Illinois, Minnesota, California and Georgia.

“This decision is a significant victory for the rights of young adults in Texas and demonstrates to the rest of the nation that similar bans cannot withstand entrenched constitutional challenges,” said Cody Wisniewski, senior counsel for the group. in a press release.

(This story refiles to correct a typographical error in the second paragraph)

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; editing by Grant McCool)

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