BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation today filed a federal lawsuit challenging federal law that prevents young adults from purchasing and owning handguns.
SAF is joined by the Firearms Policy Coalition and Louisiana Shooting Association and two private citizens, Caleb Reese and Joseph Granich, both in the affected age group. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Raymond M. DiGuiseppe of Southport, NC, Adam Kraut and Joseph Greenlee from Sacramento, CA, and John W. Dillon from Carlsbad, CA, and George J. Armbruster III from Lafayette, LA. Kraut is FPC’s Director of Legal Strategy and Greenlee is the group’s Director of Research. The case is known as Reese v. BATF.
Named as defendants are the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Acting Director Regina Lombardo, and Attorney General William Barr, in their official capacities.
Neither Reese or Granich have criminal records. Both are over age 18, and thus have reached what is generically called the age of majority, which means adulthood. Yet they are denied full rights under the Second Amendment to purchase and own handguns, according to the lawsuit, which states, “The Handgun Ban prevents (them) from purchasing handguns of the makes and models of (their) choice, with full manufacturer warranty and support…in violation of (their) constitutionally enumerated rights.”
“While both of these young men were able to vote in the recent national elections, and they can pursue other activities as legal adults, they are prevented by law from purchasing and using handguns,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “They can join the military and defend the nation, possibly at the risk of losing their lives. They can enter into contracts, start businesses, get married and even run for office. Preventing them from legally purchasing and owning handguns seems rather silly, and we believe their rights as adult citizens are being violated.”
“One mission of the Louisiana Shooting Association is to protect Americans’ right to keep and bear arms which necessarily includes their ability to acquire firearms,” said Dan Zelenka, Louisiana Shooting Association’s president. “Handguns are the firearm of choice for self-defense as well as for many types of sport shooting disciplines. Nothing in the Constitution would subject adults under the age of 21 to different rights and protections under the Second Amendment as adults over the age of 21. On behalf of our members who are currently banned under federal law, as well as our younger members who will soon be in that banned age group, the Louisiana Shooting Association is proud to be a part of this effort to stop the federal government from enforcing its unconstitutional ban.”
“The right to keep and bear arms is not a second-class right, and the law-abiding legal adults the federal government currently bans from purchasing handguns are not second-class people,” said FPC President and FPF Chairman Brandon Combs. “These adults have the fundamental, individual right to purchase handguns and handgun ammunition for all lawful purposes from the lawful retailer of their choice. If they can be asked to fight and die for our country then they can and must be guaranteed the full protection of the Constitution. FPC is committed to fighting for and protecting the rights of all responsible citizens regardless of their age. FPC will continue to fight forward and restore the Second Amendment throughout the United States in this and other cases.”
“People who must bear all the burdens of being an adult should not be denied the benefits of it, especially when those benefits stem from fundamental liberty interests guaranteed by the Bills of Rights,” said attorney DiGuiseppe. “Law-abiding adults who are under 21 years of age shoulder the same essential responsibilities as all other adults, and, in the eyes of the Constitution, they have the same fundamental rights. Yet, the federal government has denied these full-fledged citizens the right to purchase handguns and handgun ammunition, cutting off their ability to acquire the quintessential weapon of self-defense in America. That is unconstitutional. This lawsuit aims to restore the right and ability of these adults to purchase constitutionally protected handguns and ammunition for them in their lawful exercise of their Second Amendment rights.”
“Adults over the age of eighteen have the full protection of all rights under the Constitution,” added Kraut. “But the federal government’s ban singles out their Second Amendment rights for especially unfavorable treatment. And our nation’s history and tradition show that adults under the age of 21 not only have the same Second Amendment rights as those over the age of 21, they were often required to keep and bear arms. We look forward to striking down this unconstitutional ban and providing millions of individuals with access to their constitutional rights.”
“Throughout the colonial and founding eras, hundreds of laws required 18-to-20-year-olds to own firearms—law applying to both males and females, and laws related and unrelated to militia service,” Greenlee explained. “By comparison, there were no restrictions whatsoever as to adults in this age group. If we look to the original understanding of the Second Amendment, as the Supreme Court requires, it is clear that 18-to-20-year-olds were fully protected by the right to keep and bear arms. We seek to vindicate that right in this case.”
“This is the third federal suit SAF has filed so far this month,” Gottlieb noted. “Other suits include our challenge of New York City’s extremist carry law as well as the state of New Jersey’s Draconian carry permit scheme. This is part of SAF’s effort to win firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time. Our ultimate goal is to get these cases reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.”