District Court Judge: Ban on Handgun Sales to 18-20-Year-Olds Unconstitutional

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Payne issued a decision against a prohibition of handgun sales to 18–20-year-olds, noting “the Second Amendment includes the corollary right to purchase firearms.”

In reaching his conclusion, Payne set the Supreme Court of the United States’ decisions in Heller (2008) and Bruen (2022) in contradistinction.

He noted that Heller, while affirming Second Amendment rights as individual in nature, had left room for some restrictions.

Payne wrote, “In Heller, the Supreme Court stated that its holding ‘did not cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions’ including ‘laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.’”

He used the word “exceptions” to point to the gun controls that are allowed to stand under the Heller test, then noted that those “exceptions” may not be valid when tested under Bruen.

Payne noted:

The Supreme Court re-affirmed Heller’s list of exceptions in McDonald v. Chicago (2010)…However, it did not repeat this list in Bruen, the Supreme Court routinely cites McDonald and Heller without questioning the validity of the list of Heller exceptions, so the court assumes these exceptions still apply. …Other courts have reached the same conclusion and continue to apply these exceptions. But, assuming that these exceptions survive Bruen, they do not save the statutes and regulations at issue in this case.

Ultimately, Payne observed that the prohibition against 18-20-year-olds buying a handgun cannot survive the Bruen test. He pointed out that “the Government simply has not met its burden to support the finding that restrictions on the purchasing of firearms by 18-to-20-year-olds is part of our Nation’s history and tradition.”

He concluded, “Because the statutes and regulations in question are not consistent with our Nation’s history and tradition, they, therefore, cannot stand.”

The case is Fraser v. ATF, No. 3:22-cv-00410 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division.

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