October 27, 2020
By Mark Chesnut
Imagine you are a 20-year-old law-abiding American citizen who has ably served the U.S. military for two years, and in doing so have carried a gun in many parts of the world. Now, imagine that you return home to live in your home state, but your state has a law that says you can’t vote because you aren’t yet 21 years of age.
That would be an atrocious infringement of your rights, wouldn’t it?
Yet, that’s exactly what is being done in many states—not infringing upon young adults’ right to vote, but their equally fundamental right to keep and bear arms as protected under the Second Amendment of the constitution.
Now, three young adults from Pennsylvania are doing something about it. With help from the Second Amendment Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition, Madison Lara, Logan Miller and Sophia Knepley have filed a lawsuit, Lara v. Evanchick, against the state seeking for all statutes preventing those under 21 from obtaining a license to carry a firearm be declared unconstitutional.
Alan Gottleib, founder and executive vice president of SAF, says the lawsuit is all about rights the young adults clearly have under the constitution, but that are being infringed in Pennsylvania.
“We’ve filed this action because the situation in Pennsylvania smacks of discrimination against young adults in the 18- to 20-year age group,” Gottleib said in an SAF release. “Young adults can join the military, where they might be assigned to carry firearms all over the world. They can get married, start businesses, enter into contracts and yet they are not considered mature enough to exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. That’s nonsense.”
Adam Kraut, FPC’s director of legal strategy and co-counsel for the plaintiffs, agrees.
“The text of the Second Amendment makes clear that the right to bear arms ‘shall not be infringed,’ and nothing in America’s history or tradition supports Pennsylvania’s laws banning carry by young adults,” Kraut said. “Pennsylvania’s statutory scheme unconstitutionally and impermissibly denies young adults their fundamental, individual right to bear arms outside the home. Through this case, we seek to vindicate our clients’ rights and restore individual liberty for millions of young adults.”
Unfortunately, many politicians seem to think that it is OK to infringe on the rights of such young people—and even some on the right side of the political spectrum. In 2018, President Donald Trump supported a Florida proposal to make it illegal for citizens to buy a handgun or a rifle until they turned 21. He later distanced himself from that proposal after widespread criticism from Second Amendment supporters.
While purely a Pennsylvania lawsuit, a win in court could have widespread reverberations throughout the country. Many other states have similar laws banning adults aged 18 through 20 from acquiring carry permits, and a court victory could embolden younger adults in other states to file similar lawsuits.
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 the past 20 years.