September 08, 2022
When it comes to having their rights as U.S. citizens recognized by the government, younger Americans from 18- to 20-years-old have seen their right to keep and bear arms trampled for decades in many jurisdictions.
Several states recognize the right of these younger citizens to do just about everything else, but ban them from carrying a concealed carry firearm for self-defense—a right recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.
However, a late-August decision by the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Texas Andrews v. McCraw is opening the door for 18- to 20-year-olds in the Lone Star State to finally be able to practice their Second Amendment rights, just like they are able to practice their other enumerated liberties.
Under current Texas law, a “person commits an offense if the person: (1) intentionally ... carries on or about his or her person a handgun; (2) at the time of the offense is younger than 21 years of age” unless that person is “on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control, or inside of or directly enroute to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control.” The law doesn’t apply to a person who has a concealed carry permit, but besides a few exemptions like military personnel and honorably discharged veterans, 18- to 20-year-old Texans are largely prohibited from being licensed to carry a handgun.
Not so fast, said the district court.
“Based on the Second Amendment’s text, as informed by Founding-Era history and tradition, the Court concludes that the Second Amendment protects against this prohibition,” Judge Mark Pittman wrote. “Texas’s statutory scheme must therefore be enjoined to the extent that law-abiding 18-to-20-year-olds are prohibited from applying for a license to carry a handgun.”
In this case, the court did a little digging into the history books—something many judges nowadays apparently don’t believe is necessary. What the judges found is what Firearms News readers have known all along.
“At the Founding, the ‘militia’ was generally understood to be comprised of ‘all able-bodied men,’ which included 18-to-20-year-olds,” he wrote. “And because 18-to-20-year-olds were (and are) a part of the militia, the Second Amendment must protect their right to keep and bear arms.”
Pittman went on to explain that since younger Americans are not denied their other rights, the Texas state government denying them their right to “bear” arms is unconstitutional.
“Thus, because neither the First nor Fourth Amendments exclude—nor have been interpreted to exclude—18-to-20-year-olds, the Court declines to read an implicit age restriction into the Second Amendment,” Pittman wrote.
The case was brought by the Firearms Policy Coalition, a Second Amendment advocacy group that concentrates on fighting unjust gun laws in the courtroom. Cody J. Wisniewski, FPC senior attorney for constitutional litigation, said the court’s decision could have widespread consequences in other jurisdictions that forbid young adults from carrying.
“This decision is a significant victory for the rights of young adults in Texas and demonstrates for the rest of the nation that similar bans cannot withstand constitutional challenges grounded in history, as Bruen and Heller require,” Wisniewski said in an FPC news item. “We look forward to restoring the right to keep and bear arms throughout the United States in the coming months and years.”
In addition to the Texas lawsuit, FPC is currently litigating similar cases in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Illinois, Minnesota, California and Georgia. Unfortunately, in the Texas case, Judge Pittman has stayed the decision for 30 days to allow the state to prepare an appeal.
About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for more than 20 years.