Legal Issues

Old Enough to Serve in the Military, but Not Old Enough to Buy a Handgun. How Does That Make Sense?

Do you think that 18 years olds should be able to purchase a handgun? By federal law, 18 year olds, who can die for our country, cannot purchase a handgun at a firearms dealer or retail store. Currently, there is an NRA-backed case moving through the Fifth Circuit in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that the Federal law banning 18 year olds from purchasing a handgun from a licensed FFL dealer or firearms retailer is unconstitutional. The case Jennings v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosivesn originated in Texas.

First filed in September 2010, the suit originally involved a young man named James D’Cruz. D’Cruz, an 18-year old from Lubbock, Texas filed the suit against the BATFE. D’Cruz moved with his family to Florida and the suit now has three new plaintiffs, Rebekah Jennings, 19, Brennan Harmon, 19, and Andrew Payne, 18. Judge Sam Cummings ruled that it was not the court’s decision to determine the age restrictions. Further, he found under the Equal Protection Clause, that it did not violate the rights of the young adults. The NRA appealed the decision and on July 10, 2012, oral arguments began in this case.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 made it illegal for any FFL firearms dealer to sell a handgun to anyone under the age of 21, however, 18 year olds may purchase long guns from an FFL dealer. In some states, 18 years olds can purchase a handgun from an individual. The Second Amendment does not say a person has to be a certain age to bear arms. Historically speaking, we recognize an able-bodied adult at age 18. In fact, the Militia Act of 1792 requires men 18 years or older, and no older than 45 must enroll in the militia and arm themselves with a “good musket or firelock…” Further, David Thompson, an attorney with the NRA points out how none of our other constitutional rights has age restrictions, “All of our constitutional rights like the first amendment and the Fifth Amendment, apply to young adults at the age of 18.” Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action says, “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.” Besides this law being unconstitutional, there is no reason why a responsible 18 year old who can legally own a gun cannot purchase a handgun. Children, teenagers, and young adults taught firearms safety and shooting can handle long guns and handguns safely. In fact, Olympian Kim Rhode won a gold medal at age 17. For anyone who would like to argue the irresponsibility of young adults, the United States Department of Justice found that “boy who own legal firearms have much lower rates of delinquency and drug use and are even slightly less delinquent than non-owners of guns.” Do you believe that the age limit be lowered to 18? Share your comments with us.

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Comments (10)

  1. If I’m in the armed services and I can’t buy a gun legally at 18 then I’m breaking the law when the gov’t hands me a gun. At that point a law has been broken and a lawsuit should be brought against the gov’t.

  2. If you have to fill out a draft card, immediately, try to buy a hand gun. If they deny it file a law suit against the draft, that you are not of age to own a hand gun, therefore not of age for war PERIOD.

  3. Liberal Mantra “The ends justify the means”. Does it get any lower than using the grief of children to get gun control? Ironic that yesterday, no children spoke, just liberal politicians. All this leftist talk of gun control and no focus on how and the multiple times governmental agencies failed? No talk of Broward County driving down misdemeanor and felony charges to get favorable statistics for federal grant money. Worst of all, nothing spoken to support proactive mental health initiatives.
    But it’s the lefties who want to restrict anyone under 21, including those who served our country from buying a long gun and forget the real causal factors of tragedies? Will lefties next ban vans because some mentally ill person drove up the West Side Highway bike/walk path? But hey, it’s about gun control. And for lefties, the ends justify the means. Use whoever, whatever to get control and stay in power.
    Meaningful legislation corrects problems by addressing causal factors. Write you representatives now.

  4. Anyone who serves has earned our respect and trust. Recruited or legacy, they demonstrated their maturity in taking the path.

    On the other hand, just turning eighteen or twenty one is no guarantee or maturity, firearms competence, or the ability to carry safely and effectively.

  5. Speaking of drinking age, I remember when I enlisted in ’81 at age 17, the rules allowed us to drink on base/post. Off post the local laws applied. We were also able to circumvent cut-off times because the billeting lobbies and flight lines had beer machines which worked 24/7. Ah the good old days. We were heroes at civilian off-post parties because after hours we could save the party by going on post and buy more beer from these machines.

    As for the question at hand, I have always found it odd that legislators find individual mature enough to vote or die for their country at 18, but impose other limitations until 21. I say make 18 the age for everything.

  6. In theory, I agree with the first two comments. However we’ve usually got some some know-it-all with poor up-bringing, that thinks he is so cute waving that “EMPTY” gun at his friends or family… Oops! That wasn’t supposed to happen! I think that there should probably be special treatment for those enlisted. And then again how many Stellar Performers in the service can’t handle civilian life. One answer might be that the military have special training for those under 21 and issue a special permit?

  7. Right now our society teaches our children that ALL things are consumable. People, places, and especially things. When we evolve beyond that, we will see growth concerning firearms. In the mean time, I’m gonna get me mine now! Right?

  8. In 1968 when I entered the military I felt the same way about drinking. I was drafted into the Army, ready to go to Viet Nam and couldn’t get a glass of beer in most states. I believe that anyone who is serving in our military, ready to give his or her life, if need be should be for their country should able to get any and all benefits of our country regardless of their age. They are responsible enough to die ans should have the right as guaranteed under the constitution to vote, drink and buy any type of firearm they want along with any other rights granted under the constitution. Additionally, any other person who is old enough and considered responsible enough to vote should be afforded the opportunity to purchase any firearm they want as long as they do it legally.

  9. If you are law abiding, trained and responsible you should be allowed to purchase carry a gun however I want a change to the law to say if you are enlisted and or currently serving in the armed forces of the united states you are allowed to and afterwards to purchase, carry, and use firearms without restriction.

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