(USA Features) A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that setting the age to legally buy handguns at 21, thus denying 18-20 year-olds the right to purchase one, is unconstitutional.
In a 2-1 decision, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, writing for the majority, argued that such laws “either the Second Amendment or 18- to 20-year-olds to second-class status,” according to CNN.
“Looking through this historical lens to the text and structure of the Constitution reveals that 18- to 20-year-olds have Second Amendment rights,” Judge Julius N. Richardson wrote.
“Virtually every other constitutional right applies whatever the age. And the Second Amendment is no different,” he added.
Judge G. Steven Agee, appointed by former President George W. Bush, joined Richardson.
A Barack Obama appointee, Judge James A. Wynn, Jr., dissented, however, arguing adults ages 18-to-21 years old are not as mature and, according to crime statistics, are more likely to use a handgun to commit a crime or to use one in a suicide.
But that argument appears to support the majority decision that younger Americans should not enjoy full constitutional rights.
Wynn’s dissent took on a political position rather than a constitutional, textual, and legal one.
He accused the two-judge majority of giving “the gun lobby a victory in a fight it lost on Capitol Hill more than fifty years ago,” CNN reported.
Wynn went on to argue the court’s ruling usurped the constitutional authority of state and federal lawmakers, writing it was not “consistent with the proper role of the federal judiciary in our democratic system.”
But the majority wrote that “the rights of more than 99% of a group cannot be restricted because a fraction of 1% commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime.”
The ruling isn’t likely to be the last word on the issue, however.
“It is expected that Tuesday’s decision will be appealed, and could eventually land before the Supreme Court, which already has another gun rights case before it in the coming term,” CNN added.
“That case, for which oral arguments have not yet been scheduled, deals with the restrictions New York imposes on carrying firearms in public.”
In his decision, Richardson referenced the Second Amendment in its historical context, when it was ratified in 1791 when Americans 18 and older were expected to serve in state militias.
“Militia laws are helpful because they provide a baseline for determining the relevant political community that enjoyed Second Amendment rights,” Richardson wrote.
“They support the affirmative conclusion that 18-year-olds are protected by the Second Amendment,” he added.
“But even if history were less clear, 18-year-olds would not necessarily be excluded from the Second Amendment’s protections.”