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Landmark Ruling:
Virginia Federal Judge

Declares Unconstitutional Law Restricting Handgun Sales to 18 to 20 Year-Olds"

Age-Based Gun Purchase Restrictions: Implications and Limitations

The Justice Department is considering overturning a Virginia ruling that could set a precedent for gun access among young adults. Despite the legal ability for 18-year-olds to purchase firearms from unlicensed sellers, licensed dealers typically refrain from selling handguns to those under 21. A Supreme Court decision has recently eased this process, allowing 18-year-olds to purchase handguns from licensed dealers while ensuring they undergo the same background checks as those purchasing long guns. However, provisions for background checks, mental health record reviews, and firearm training may still apply, as stated by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

A 20-year-old instigated a case in Virginia challenging federal age restrictions on gun control. The law permits 18-year-olds to buy long guns, but not handguns, from licensed dealers. This case supports subjecting them to the same background checks as long gun buyers. Justice Kavanaugh recognized potential limitations, advocating for state-mandated background checks, mental health record assessments, and firearm training. Emerging laws are interpreting the Bruen decision as an infringement on Second Amendment rights due to age discrimination.

Presently, 18-year-olds can purchase long guns from licensed dealers but not handguns. A recent Supreme Court ruling has eased this restriction, allowing 18-year-olds to buy handguns from licensed dealers and requiring comprehensive background checks. Additional state regulations can still apply. The gun lobby is using the Bruen decision to advocate for 18-year-olds’ right to buy handguns from licensed dealers, contrasting the previous restriction to long guns and handguns from unlicensed dealers, sans background checks. The Virginia case supports this decision, but maintains limits related to mental health evaluations and existing gun laws.

The gun industry has recently advocated for the expansion of the Bruen decision, resulting in 18-year-olds being eligible to buy semiautomatic handguns from licensed dealers. Previously, they could only purchase long guns from licensed dealers or firearms from unlicensed sellers without background checks. A novel Virginia case challenges these restrictions and reinforces the Bruen decision. However, requirements such as firearm handling, background checks, mental health records checks, and use-of-force law training may still apply to 18-year-olds.

The recent decision to abandon age-based restrictions for gun purchases has been lauded by gun rights advocates, albeit with some limitations. Justice Kavanaugh stated that gun control laws incorporating licensing requirements could still be lawful, and states retain the authority to enforce measures like background checks and proof of weapons handling experience prior to a purchase.

Law Offices of Shaffer Cormell.
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