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Judge Strikes Down Federal Ban on Handgun Sales for 18 to 20-Year-Olds

On Friday, Judge Thomas S. Kleeh issued a decision striking down the federal prohibition against 18 to 20-year-olds purchasing handguns.

The plaintiffs in the case are Steven Robert Brown, Benjamin Weekley, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the West Virginia Citizens Defense League.

Judge Kleeh, a Donald Trump appointee, is Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

Kleeh put the case in context:

This case requires the Court to assess the protected right of the people under the Second Amendment to the Constitution to keep and bear arms. U.S. Const. amend. II. Plaintiffs Robert Brown (“Brown”) and Benjamin Weekley (“Weekley”), individuals, are “law abiding, responsible adult citizens who wish to purchase handguns.”…Brown and Weekley are citizens of West Virginia and the United States of America and are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one. Brown and Weekley, as law-abiding, responsible adult citizens, would purchase handguns and handgun ammunition from Federal Firearms Licensees (“FFLs”) but for the right proscribed by 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(b)(1) and (c)(1).

He went on to explain that Brown and Weekley had each tried to buy a handgun but were “refused the sales because they were under twenty-one years of age.”

Kleeh noted that the plaintiffs sought summary judgment against the statute while the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Attorney General Merrick Garland, and ATF Director Steven Dettelbach sought to have the case dismissed.

He sided with the plaintiffs and quoted extensively from Bruen (2022) to show the manner at which he arrived at his decision.

Here is one of Kleeh’s quotes from the Bruen decision:

To justify its regulation, the government may not simply posit that the regulation promotes an important interest…To demonstrate the regulation of that conduct is within the bounds of the Second Amendment, “the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with the Nation’s historic tradition of firearm regulation. Only if a firearm regulation is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition may a court conclude that the individual’s conduct falls outside the Second Amendment’s “unqualified command.”

He pointed to the overarching test the Supreme Court of the United States set forth in Bruen, “The test that we set forth in Heller and apply today requires courts to assess whether modern firearms regulations are consistent with the Second Amendment’s text and historical understanding.”

In siding with the plaintiffs, Kleeh enjoined the ATF, Garland, and Dettelbach from enforcing a ban on handgun purchases against 18 to 20-year-olds who are “otherwise qualified” to make such purchases.

The case is Brown v. ATF, No. 1:22-cv-00080 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

 

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