NRA Petitions Supreme Court For The Right Of Young Adults To Purchase Handguns


Citing a “categorical burden on the fundamental right to keep and bear arms,” the National Rifle Association is petitioning the Supreme Court to reverse decades-old regulations prohibiting the sale of handguns to people under the age of 21.

The NRA’s petition to the Nation’s highest court challenges an October ruling handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit which upheld the regulations, contending that people between the ages of 18 and 20 “tend to be relatively immature and that denying them easy access to handguns would deter violent crime.”

“As with felons and the mentally ill, categorically restricting the presumptive Second Amendment rights of 18-to-20-year-olds does not violate the central concern of the Second Amendment,” the court ruled.

The court stressed that adults under the age of 21 are not denied 2nd Amendment rights because they are currently legally allowed to purchase rifles, shotguns and other weapons. As for handguns, the court also noted that parents and guardians can give 18 to 20 year olds firearms in that class as gifts, and that no laws bar the possession or use of those weapons by people in the age bracket.

But the NRA argues that disallowing American adults under the age of 21 the right to purchase handguns—the most popular class of self-defense firearm—violates the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller ruling that assures Americans the right to carry handguns for protection.

“The Framers’ decision to enshrine the Second Amendment and this Court’s decisions recognizing that the right it secures is both individual and fundamental are decisions with consequences,” the NRA wrote in its petition. “One obvious consequence is that individuals above the legal age of majority cannot be denied any meaningful ability to purchase the quintessential means for exercising the core individual right.”

Legal analysts expect the Supreme Court, which could rule on the petition by September’s end, to side with the lower court ruling and to reference higher suicide, substance abuse and crime rates among younger Americans to justify the restrictions. NRA supporters, however, have noted that 18-year-olds are eligible to bear arms, including handguns, in defense of the Nation, and shouldn’t be denied the right to purchase self-defense firearms in the homeland.

Personal Liberty

Sam Rolley

Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After covering community news and politics, Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where could better hone his focus on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers understand which lies are perpetuated by the mainstream media and to stay on top of issues ignored by more conventional media outlets.

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  • tns

    My opinion
    If you are old enough to die for this country ( 18) you are old enough to defend yourself in this country

    • 360Joe

      Isn’t a handgun just a shortened version of a rifle? So, you can buy a “Long gun” at 18 but not a shortened version of the same instrument. Ah, that makes perfect sense. I got my Concealed Carry Permit and first handgun at 16, crazy kid that I was, I haven’t reeked any carnage. BTW, I believe you still have to register for the Draft when you turn 18, I very think few do that any more.

  • Ol’ Grey Ghost

    The right to vote can be a more dangerous weapon of mass destruction than any handgun and 18 year-olds have that right so let them exercise their Natural Right to keep and bear the arms of their choice…

  • Heyoka

    Interesting question posed here. The demurer to the emotional appeal in the name of suicide prevention and substance abuse is problematic. Actually it will be probably be shown that the young people who are taught to use and respect firearms have a lesser statistical chance of succumbing to those issues appealed to. Then too the militia statutes incorporated 17 year olds into the scheme of things, so Hell may as well ensure these people are properly equiped… right???
    See how the court likes their own words. Crow is best eaten head first least the feathers get caught in the throat and one chokes…

  • RightGunner

    “the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit which upheld the regulations, contending that people between the ages of 18 and 20 “tend to be relatively immature and that denying them easy access to handguns would deter violent crime”.”

    Perhaps then, we should also prohibit the right to vote to the “relatively immature”, and we should also prohibit entry into the military until they become a mature 21 years old.

    • independent thinker

      “Perhaps then, we should also prohibit the right to vote to the “relatively immature”, and we should also prohibit entry into the military until they become a mature 21 years old.”
      Absolutely correct RightGunner.

    • lynn2929

      that is a stupid thought just like the NRA has lost touch with reality and this is about show. First voting don’t kill and you aren’t forced to join the military it is a choice and you carring a gun is more supervised and come with massive training so to compare owning guns in the service to any snot nosed kid being able to own a hand gun is in sane and a parent that would buy and give their kid a gun at 18 is a bit off upstairs

      • D C

        My Father gave me a 22 for 10th birthday in July and a
        20 gage shot gun for Christmas the same year I am 81 now
        never shot anyone or been in trouble with the law.

      • JimH

        An 18 year old can buy a rifle and shotgun, just not a handgun.
        At 18 I was mature enough to own a firearm, so why would a parent be “a bit off” to buy and give their child a firearm.
        Who more than a family member would be able to determine if the child or young adult is mature enough to responsibly own a firearm? A government bureaucrat?
        If the law says an 18 year old can purchase a rifle or shotgun(as I did at that age), why not a handgun?

      • RightGunner


        Thank you for your comment Lynn. I have been around a long time and my record shows I am not stupid, but of course non-stupid people can make stupid comments, so I am responding to your post.

        First, your point that voting doesn’t kill, it certainly can elect persons who wish to kill either persons or the protections that should allow persons to not be killed. For instance abortion kills fetuses that exhibit much of life that new born children exhibit. Certain women believe that sex is a right without responsibility, and therefore they have a right to kill their result of sex before it exits their body.

        When I was younger I used to be ambivalent about abortion until we saw some of our college students, the supposedly best and brightest, kill their baby after it was born. That has spawned the admonition not to throw the baby out with the dumpster trash. All our actions have consequences and I now believe that recreational abortion should be banned, and voting for the current administration is a crime against humanity.

        Further the comment about the gun training of the supposedly immature kids in the military requires some experience. I have four years experience in the military, when I enlisted during the Korean Conflict. The best training came before that, when my uncle handed be a .22 rifle when I was 14 to take into the woods to shoot, and he told me never let the gun point at anything one does not want to kill. That was more instructive about personal gun handling than I got in the military even though I became a B-29 gunner with the job of killing the enemy.

        So I maintain my position that if people are really immature they should not vote, but that by military enlistment age, one cannot judge immaturity by age alone. If however a person is immature they can do more damage than an immature kid with a gun, if they are allowed to vote.

      • Gary

        18 year-olds still register for selective service. Even though no one has been forced to enter the military since I believe Vietnam, the draft could very easily be put back in place. The real problem is society no longer expects 18 year-olds to be adults except for in the military.

  • T. Goober

    Am now 74 — owned a handgun at 18 for non-concealed carry– for carry when hunting or fishing. No self-defense permit was issued until 21. Had to have hunting or fishing license with me when carrying handgun. I think this idea is a good compromise! Voting and military service are not good arguments for 18-20 year olds to carry concealed weapons AND I am a Patron Life Member of the NRA!!

  • robertsgunshop

    That age limit was included in GCA68. Two years later 18 YO’s weer given the right to vote and drink (which the feds later blackmailed the states into changing back to 21). I myself went in the Marines at 17. I think if someone can be trusted to serve their country and vote, they are responsible enough buy a handgun. After all, we allow them to purchase long guns.

    • Alan

      I agree Robert. If you are responsible enough to be trusted with pulling a trigger, on any weapon, for those who would have you fighting their wars, then you are obviously responsible enough to purchase a handgun as well.

  • ibn insha

    An 18 years old can join military and mysteriously becomes ‘mature’ and not misuse deadly weapons. An 18 years old can vote and get thousands killed by electing an idiot into office. An 18 years old can marry, bring into this world children and get them killed by improper upbringing. But an 18 years old cannot buy a hand gun because, according to US Court of Appeals of the 5th district, people between 18 and 20 are immature and denying them to right to own a hand gun deters violent crimes. The logic does not make sense. The judges need to spend more time with real people. Why even require a license and background check for the exercise of constitutional right?

    • Robbie

      One could say that being in the military would satisfy the 2nd. Amendment stipulation for a “well regulated militia” I’d say the United States army made up of patriotic defenders is certainly a militia and it’s fairly well regulated. No need, however, for any other 18 years old to be walking around with heat hidden in their belt – especially if they’re near a 7/11 late at night!

      • Bob Livingston

        Dear Robbie,

        You write: “One could say that being in the military would satisfy the 2nd. Amendment stipulation for a ‘well regulated militia.'” And one could say you’re ignorant of history and the English language. And that would be a correct statement, whereas yours isn’t.

        Best wishes,

        • Robbie

          Your turn of phrase was kind of cute from your right wing perspective, however, you really don’t back up you comments with fact. Supposedly I’m “ignorant of history and the English language” but you don’t offer any reason for saying that. Maybe you couldn’t think of anything.

  • Tony Kammerer

    It is perfectly legal (at the Federal level at least) for an 18-20 year old to own a hand gun and to purchase one, just not through a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer, you know, the kind that the anti-gun politicians feel all firearm sales should go though for their “universal background checks”.
    Why should the Federal law require that 18-20 year olds purchase hand guns without going through an FFL with a background check?