Tuesday, in a victory for both Second Amendment rights and common sense, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the 21-year-old age requirement for legally purchasing guns.
Many of our age limit laws make little sense (you can get married at 18 but you can’t drink a beer until you’re 21, etc.), but this one was particularly onerous. You can join the military at 18 and carry high-powered weaponry onto a battlefield, but you can’t buy the kind of deer rifle that most male students in my high school used to have on a rack in the back window of their pickup trucks (and somehow, it never occurred to any of us to use them to shoot our classmates.)
The Court quite sensibly found that the Bill of Rights applies to all adult Americans upon reaching the age of 18, and Congress has no power to make an exception for the right to keep and bear arms. Judge Julius Richardson wrote, “Despite the weighty interest in reducing crime and violence, we refuse to relegate either the Second Amendment or 18- to 20-year-olds to a second-class status.”
I was glad to see the Court specifically point out the logical fallacy so often cited in passing gun control laws: that just because more legal gun purchases and higher crime didn’t prove that the first thing caused the second. Congress didn’t consider illegal gun purchases, which are how most criminals get their weapons. They just reacted to crime by trying to take away the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
That’s a pretty fair encapsulation of the argument behind most gun control laws. It’s a relief to see that the Court applied reason to it and rejected it.