Anti-gun activists were shocked this week after a federal judge ruled that those between the ages of 18 and 21 years cannot be barred from purchasing handguns.
According to the Washington Post, that decision came on Wednesday from U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne. Payne, who presides over the Eastern District of Virginia, was appointed by President H.W. Bush.
"If the Court were to exclude 18-to-20-year-olds from the Second Amendment’s protection, it would impose limitations on the Second Amendment that do not exist with other constitutional guarantees," Payne wrote in his 71-page opinion.
He cited the Supreme Court's holding in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen which held that gun restrictions must be "consistent with the Nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation."
"Because the statutes and regulations in question are not consistent with our Nation’s history and tradition, they, therefore, cannot stand," Payne concluded.
His decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by John Corey Fraser after he was prevented from buying a pistol at age 20.
Fraser's case went on to become a class action suit which challenged the "the constitutionality of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and federal regulations from the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives (ATF) that limit the sale of handguns to adults 21 years and older."
Elliott M. Harding serves as Fraser's attorney and he welcomed Wednesday's ruling, saying, "We’re pleased the court ruled in favor of Mr. Fraser and the other named plaintiffs in such [a] well written and thorough decision."
While the Post noted that Harding expects Payne's ruling to be appealed, he nonetheless remains "optimistic that the decision will be affirmed in due course."
Payne's decision was welcomed by pro-gun figures on social media, who hailed the ruling as a win for the Second Amendment.
Court struck down the law that restricts handgun purchases for 18-20 year olds because obviously there is no 18th century analogue for such a restriction and 18 is the age you can vote and can fight for your country and are a legal adult etc. Anti-gunners are seething https://t.co/aFjdbXGT8P
— Nuance Bro (@NuanceBro) May 11, 2023
However, anti-gun activists were far from being impressed, and they include Janet Carter, who works at Everytown Law.
"The federal law prohibiting federally licensed firearms dealers from selling handguns to individuals under the age of 21 is not just an essential tool for preventing gun violence, it is also entirely constitutional," the Post quoted Carter as saying.
Carter went on to allege that Payne's ruling "will undoubtedly put lives at risk" and insisted that "it must be reversed."