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DC – COURTS – New plea for gun rights

The National Rifle Association and two individuals under the age of twenty-one have asked the Supreme Court to strike down a federal law that bans licensed gun dealers from selling handguns to minors. A federal appeals court upheld that law, ruling that Congress was justified in believing that easy commercial access to pistols for teenagers leads to violent crime. The new case, NRA v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (docket 13-137), raises one of the broadest challenges to a gun control law to reach the Court in the five years since the Second Amendment was interpreted to protect a personal right to have a gun, at least for self-defense. Under a law that dates to 1968, Congress imposed a series of limitations on access to guns for anyone under the age of twenty-one. The only restriction specifically at issue in the new case is a ban on purchasing a handgun from a federally licensed gun dealer, for anyone who is eighteen, nineteen, or twenty years old. The law does not ban those in that age group from obtaining guns, or even from obtaining handguns. They may get such a weapon from their parents or a guardian, and may even buy a handgun in a private sale. They may also buy a rifle or shotgun from a licensed dealer.  What is banned altogether is the purchase of a handgun from a dealer — the source that the NRA told the Court is “the most common” and “most logical.” The NRA and two nineteen-year-olds who joined in the challenge filed their petition after the Fifth Circuit Court had split eight to seven in refusing to reconsider the ban that had been upheld by a unanimous three-judge Circuit panel. In upholding Congress’s power to single out a specific group in society for curbing its gun rights, the panel had raised doubts about whether young adults between the ages of eighteen to twenty are protected by the Second Amendment.  [full article]

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