A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday, July 13, that prohibiting the sale of handguns to people under 21 is a violation of the Second Amendment.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that 18-year-olds have the constitutional right to keep and bear firearms and that the limits at issue in the legal battle amount to a “total ban” on people under the age of 21 purchasing a handgun from a registered firearms dealer.

“Looking through this historical lens to the text and structure of the Constitution reveals that 18- to 20-year-olds have Second Amendment rights. Virtually every other constitutional right applies whatever the age. And the Second Amendment is no different,” the court stated.

The 4th Circuit’s divided court noted that the nation’s “most cherished constitutional rights” vest no later than the age of 18 and that 18-year-olds were expected to serve in the militia and provide their own weapons at the time of the nation’s founding.

“Despite the weighty interest in reducing crime and violence, we refuse to relegate either the Second Amendment or 18- to 20-year-olds to a second-class status,” the two-judge majority was written by Judge Julius Richardson, who was appointed by previous President Donald Trump.

The Justice Department said in a statement that “we respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and are considering our options.”

Richardson also said that Congress used “disproportionate crime rates to craft over inclusive laws that restrict the rights of overwhelmingly law-abiding citizens,” without proving that the licensed dealers targeted were the source of guns used to commit crimes by 18- to 20-year-olds.

Judge James Wynn argued in dissent that the decision invalidated a “modest and long-established effort to control gun violence.”

“To be sure, the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms is an exceptional right, just not in the way the majority imagines,” Wynn wrote. “No, the Second Amendment is exceptional not because it is uniquely oppressed or imperiled, but rather because it is singularly capable of causing harm.”

Two young adults, aged 19 and 20, were involved in the court struggle because they tried to buy handguns from approved dealers but were turned down due to their age.

Since 1968, licensed dealers have been forbidden from selling handguns to those under the age of 21.

The NRA celebrated its legal victory on Tuesday, albeit the ruling might be challenged.

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