While America is reeling from yet another mass shooting, the United States Supreme Court is preparing to begin its new term in October. At the end of this month, they will review the petitions before them and decide which cases they’ll review.
One of those petitions is from the National Rifle Association.
On the heels of claiming that the best way to respond to school shootings is by arming teachers, the NRA is continuing their goal by making sure more people can get guns as easily as possible. They are currently fighting for the rights of the latest segment of the population that are being denied their Second Amendment rights – 18, 19, and 20-year-olds.
Current federal law prohibits anyone under 21 from buying a handgun from a federally licensed gun dealer. They can, however, legally obtain a gun under other circumstances, such as private sales or from a parent or guardian. In fact, they can already buy rifles and shotguns from licensed gun dealers. However, the NRA and their two 19-year-old petitioners think that the law denies them their Second Amendment right when they are unable to buy a handgun as well.
The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 carves out specific limitations for those under 21 when it comes to accessing guns. A circuit court ruled that while the age group had a Second Amendment right to own a gun, Congress had the right to limit the circumstances under which that happened – especially since younger people tend to be irresponsible and prone to violence.
The statistics and studies back them up.
Homicide and suicide are already the second and third leading causes of death respectively for those aged 15-24. The majority of these deaths are by firearms. Additionally, studies of the teenage brain show that it is still developing the parts that are crucial to considering the consequences of their actions and insight. Researchers believe that that portion of the brain isn’t fully developed until the mid-20s.
Gun violence statistics decline after age 25.
None of that matters to the NRA, or the 21 state attorney generals (only 20 of them are Republican) who have filed “friend of the court” briefs in support of the NRA’s petition. They feel the fact that this class of people are being disparaged by being called immature and prone to violence and should in fact be allowed to protect themselves by buying handguns from federally licensed gun dealers.
They even argue that these young people are allowed to handle guns in the military. They leave out the part that they do so after they are properly trained, issued a firearm and instructed to use it in a specific situation like, perhaps, a war.
They also don’t mention how allowing more people to buy handguns from gun dealers helps…gun dealers.
It has been three years since SCOTUS last reviewed a guns rights case. They have specifically refused to hear six challenges to federal and state laws since 2010. In 2008, their ruling in District of Columbia v Heller was a personal Second Amendment right to self defense. The current petition, NRA v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, seeks to extend that right to people under 21.
We’ll find out on September 30th if the court will allow them to argue the case.
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