The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments yesterday in the NRA’s appeal of Jennings et al v. BATFE. This case, originally known as D’Cruz v. BATFE, challenges the Federal law that bars 18-20 year olds from purchasing handguns at retail from a licensed firearms dealer.
This case was heard originally in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas before Judge Sam Cummings. He ruled for the BATFE and the NRA appealed a few days later. Judge Cummings found that the rights of 18-20 year olds were not violated as they could always buy a handgun privately and that it was within the purview of Congress to set the age at which someone could purchase a firearm from a dealer.
The NRA released this on the case:
Fairfax, Va. – Oral arguments occurred today in the United Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the case of Jennings v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, in which the National Rifle Association is appealing a decision by a federal court in Texas which held that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect the right of young adults to buy firearms from federally licensed dealers.
“The NRA has been engaged in this ongoing fight — not just in Congress and in state legislatures, but also in the courts — for the right of all law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms. All Americans deserve for their Second Amendment rights to be fully respected. If the law says you’re old enough to fight for your country, it should allow 18-20 year old adults to purchase and own a handgun for any lawful purpose,” Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued the ruling that is being appealed. The plaintiffs are a group of law-abiding 18- to 20-year old adults who are challenging the federal ban on dealer sales of handguns to persons under 21, who are treated as adults for virtually every other purpose under the law. The lower court wrongly compared the ban to other restrictions the Supreme Court has said would be “presumptively lawful,” such as the ban on sales to convicted felons.
The NRA filed a brief on behalf of these law-abiding young adults pointing out that nearly a decade before the U.S. Supreme Court decided District of Columbia v. Heller, the Fifth Circuit itself had held (in the 2001 case of United States v. Emerson) that Second Amendment claims should be decided based on the amendment’s history and text. The history of the Founding era makes clear that 18-year-olds were considered adults for purposes of the right to keep and bear arms; for example, the Militia Act of 1792 required 18-year-olds to “be enrolled in the militia” and to arm themselves accordingly.
A parallel case, challenging the state of Texas’ age limit of 21 for issuance of concealed handgun licenses, is also pending in the Fifth Circuit.
The oral hearings can be heard here. Arguing for the NRA was Charles Cooper and for the United State was Anisha Sasheen Dasgupta.
The case was heard before Judges Carolyn King (appointed by Jimmy Carter), Catherina Haynes (appointed by George W. Bush), and Edward Prado (appointed by George W. Bush).