Americans who are 18 years old can vote in elections, enlist in the military and die for their country.
But California believes they are not “adult” enough to buy a gun.
A law adopted last year that bans gun purchases by young adults is being challenged in a lawsuit by the Second Amendment Foundation and Calguns.
The state already has regulated the color of toy firearms. And it’s in court defending its attempt to require online gun registration, limit gun magazines, require a gun-purchase waiting period and regulate the messages on signs outside gun shops.
One recent legislative session saw 12 new gun control bills, but several times already, federal judges have ruled the state has violated the Second Amendment.
The Firearms Policy Coalition, Firearms Policy Foundation, a local business and three private citizens also joined the case in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The plaintiffs are represented by lead counsel John W. Dillon of Carlsbad, California-based Gatzke Dillon & Balance LLP.
“We’re going to court against this law because it clearly violates the Second and Fourteenth amendment rights of young adults,” said SAF founder Alan M. Gottlieb. “When a citizen turns 18 years old in this country, he or she is considered a legal adult, free to exercise their rights under the Constitution, and that certainly should include the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
“But this California law turns that concept on its ear, with very few exceptions, such as possessing a valid hunting license,” he added. “But our individual plaintiffs do not hunt, and have no intention of pretending to be hunters, just to exercise their constitutional rights.”
SAF explained Penal Code 27510 prohibits licensed dealers from selling, supplying or delivering firearms to any person under age 21.
“Once individuals turn 18, they are adults in the eyes of the law,” said the lead counsel, Dillon. “Law-abiding adults are entitled to fully exercise all of their fundamental rights, including their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for all lawful purposes, not just hunting or sport.”
Brandon Combs, the president of the Firearms Policy Coalition and the chairman of the Firearms Policy Foundation, said the Second Amendment “is not a second-class right, and adults over the age of 18 but under 21 are not second-class people.”
“This case seeks to restore the Second Amendment human rights of legal adults who are being prevented from exercising them because of unconstitutional laws, policies, practices, customs that the State of California defendants are known to enforce,” he said.
Defendants in the lawsuit are Xavier Becerra, the attorney general, and Martin Horan, director of the state Department of Justice’s Bureau of Firearms.
The complaint notes the Second Amendment states a “well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.'”
“The Second Amendment protects the people’s right to acquire, keep, bear, and possess arms, including firearms, for all lawful purposes including but not limited to self-defense,” argues the complaint. “Once an individual turns 18 years old in this country, he or she is considered a legal adult free to exercise fundamental constitutional rights pursuant to the United States Constitution.”
Both rights and responsibilities land on individuals at age 18, it explained.
“For example, at 18 years old, U.S. citizens can (i) vote, (ii) fully exercise their freedom of speech, (iii) receive the full protections under the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments, (iv) enter into contracts, and (v) serve in the United States military.”
And, it explained, the Supreme Court already has recognized people of 18 to 20 years old as adults.
“Despite these facts, the state of California recently enacted legislation, effective January 1, 2019, that prohibits an entire class of adults from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”
That makes the legislation invalid “under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.”
The case requests a ruling that the new state restriction is unconstitutional.