September 08, 2023
Back in late March, a Joe Biden-appointed U.S. District Judge in the case Worth v. Harrington (the name has since been changed to Worth v. Jacobson since Bob Jacobson replaced John Harrington as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety in 2023) struck down Minnesota’s regulation saying a citizen has to be 21 to apply for a carry permit. The March ruling stated: “The Court declares that [the statutes’] requirement that a person must me at least 21 years of age to receive a permit to publicly carry a handgun in Minnesota violates the rights of individuals 18 to 20 years old to keep and bear arms protected by the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.”
Minnesota later chose to appeal the ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and briefs were recently filed by parties on both sides of the debate. In making the earlier ruling, District Court Judge Kathleen Menendez used the new criteria set down in last year’s Bruen case to make her decision. That ruling set a new standard in which courts are to first ask whether the “Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct.” Then, the court should determine whether there exists a “historical precedent from before, during and even after the founding [that] evidences a comparable tradition of regulation.”
It’s hard to argue that the Second Amendment’s plain text doesn’t cover an individual’s right to bear arms, since it obviously does. The District Court determined that the state failed to identify analogous regulations showing a historical tradition of depriving 18- to 20-year-olds of the right to publicly carry firearms for self-defense. The opinion focused on laws in place during or shortly after the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791. In its brief, the state argued there was, indeed, plenty of historical precedent for banning 18- to 20-year-olds from owning or carrying firearms. It then, however, took things a bit further, seemingly insinuating that the court should ignore the Bruen direction and consider “public safety” in making the decision.
“First, societal concerns beyond what the Founders could have anticipated are present today,” the state wrote. “Mass and school shootings occur with greater frequency than ever before. We know now that 18-to-20-year-olds are statistically more dangerous than any other age group…
“Second, the dramatic technological changes of the Market Revolution resulted in two changes the Founders could not have anticipated: (a) the dominant weapon changed from a long gun to a handgun and (b) handguns became both more available and more affordable.”
Lawyers for the appellees, on the other hand, argue that the case is exactly what the Bruen standard was written for.
“The State argues that plaintiffs’ claims fail at either the textual or historical level, but as the district court’s well-reasoned opinion demonstrates, there can be no question that 18- to 20-year-olds are members of ‘the people’ whose rights are protected, and the State has failed to come forward with evidence of even one relevant restriction from the Founding era,” the brief stated. “The restrictions it collects from the latter half of the 19th century, in addition to being too late, are distinguishable from the Carry Ban.”
Oral arguments in the case have not been scheduled yet, but it should prove to be an interesting one.
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 nearly 25 years.
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