UNITED STATES. Texas: The state’s ban on handgun possession by those between the ages of 18 and 20 has been overturned by a federal judge in Texas, in what appears to be the first significant legal ruling following the US Supreme Court’s landmark decision on gun rights in June.
Texas gun law
The Firearms Policy Coalition, a pro-gun rights organisation, challenged the Texas law prohibiting young adults not in the military from carrying handguns in public in 2021.
According to the group, the prohibition violates the US constitution’s second amendment, which states that states may form militias and that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
In June, the US Supreme Court declared that the second amendment guarantees an individual’s right to carry a gun in public for self-defence for the first time.
The decision also mandated that the federal judiciary use a “history-only” standard when evaluating challenges to laws governing the possession of weapons, holding that law was valid only if it was comparable to those in effect during the 18th century when the second amendment was ratified.
In a decision that frequently cited the recent supreme court decision, Judge Mark Pittman of the US district court in Fort Worth concluded on Thursday that there was no historical precedent prohibiting young adults from carrying firearms in public.
For 30 days, the judge put his decision on hold so that Texas could appeal.
Pittman stated that “the undisputed historical evidence establishes that 18-to-20-year-olds were understood to be a part of the militia in the founding era” in his ruling that the ban was unconstitutional.
The Texas attorney general’s lawyers had unsuccessfully argued that there was a precedent for restricting gun ownership based on age.
The age restriction only applied to carrying handguns; once a person turns 18, they can purchase long guns, as was the case with the 18-year-old shooter who attacked a school in Uvalde, Texas, in May, killing 19 students and two teachers with a semi-automatic rifle.
The offices of Texas’ Republican Governor Greg Abbott and attorney general Ken Paxton were silent at the time of publication.
Thanks to a law Abbott signed last year, Texans over 21 can now carry a handgun without a permit, background check, or training.
Democratic leaders across the US have criticised the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen for making it much harder to regulate guns in a nation where mass shootings are commonplace.
According to the Firearms Policy Coalition, similar bans on young adults carrying firearms in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Illinois, Minnesota, California, and Georgia are being challenged.
“This decision is a significant victory for the rights of young adults in Texas and demonstrates for the rest of the nation that similar bans cannot withstand constitutional challenges rooted in history,” said Cody Wisniewski, a senior attorney for the group.