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WA – GUN RIGHTS – Federal judge hears challenge to Washington gun law barring young adults under 21 from buying semi-automatic rifles

A federal judge in Tacoma heard arguments Tuesday about a provision in state law that bars young adults age 18 to 20 from purchasing semi-automatic rifles, even though they are still allowed to possess the weapons for self-defense in their homes or places of business and for hunting, target shooting and other lawful purposes. U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Leighton, who heard competing motions for summary judgment, said he expects to issue a ruling on or before Aug. 31. But he told attorneys at the outset of the hourlong hearing that the age restriction does not impact “a core function of the Second Amendment,” and noted 18- to 20-year-olds can still purchase other firearms, such as shotguns or bolt-action rifles. “Mr. Ard, you’re going to have a very stiff headwind in your argument,” the judge told Bainbridge Island attorney Joel Ard, one of the attorneys representing the case’s plaintiffs, which include gun sellers and young people seeking to buy semi-automatic rifles. Leighton, who conducted the hearing telephonically, said he had been enlightened by materials submitted by both sides. “I don’t share the hyperbole about the evil of guns or the sanctity of the right to self-defense,” he said. “This is just a plain vanilla analysis of the law as I see it.” In November 2018, 59% of Washington voters approved Initiative 1639, a gun-violence prevention and public-safety measure meant to align gun laws for semi-automatic rifles with federal laws governing pistols, which cannot be legally sold to anyone under age 21. The initiative also barred in-person sales of semi-automatic rifles to residents of other states.  [full article]

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