In a landmark decision, a federal court in Virginia has ruled that federal regulations prohibiting the sale of handguns to individuals under the age of 21 are unconstitutional.
Judge Robert Payne of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, is likely to issue his final decision in the coming weeks, at which point the ruling, which the Justice Department is expected to oppose, would go into force.
In the 19 states where it is already illegal to sell handguns to anybody under the age of 21, the verdict would have no effect. The judge regularly cited the Supreme Court’s recent considerable expansion of gun rights in his Wednesday opinion, which Payne’s decision follows.
“Because the statutes and regulations in question are not consistent with our nation’s history and tradition, they, therefore, cannot stand,” Payne wrote in his decision. The Department of Justice’s attorneys did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
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Attorney Elliott Harding, who represented the initial plaintiffs, four individuals aged 18–20 who sought to legally acquire pistols, expressed his satisfaction with the ruling.
“Even though it ensures that future buyers can now purchase these firearms in the federal system, one that includes background checks and other requirements, we expect the Defendants will appeal,” Harding said. “Nevertheless, we remain optimistic that the decision will be affirmed in due course.”
In a society with high rates of firearm violence, including several mass sh*otings, the right to bear arms, which is precious to many Americans and promised by the country’s 18th-century founders, has become a divisive subject.
The following tweet verifies the report:
US judge strikes down federal law barring handgun sales to those under 21 https://t.co/RwB0fyFEJw pic.twitter.com/zm4jiRlJ0n
— Reuters (@Reuters) May 12, 2023
According to the Gun Violence Archive, 2023 already has the highest number of sh*otings for this point in the year since at least 2016. According to the non-profit organization, four or more individuals are considered victims in a mass sh*oting if the toll does not include the gunman.
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