18 Or 21

Joe Doakes fro Como Park emails:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit hears cases from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and from federal administrative agencies.  It recently decided Hirschfeld v. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco & Explosives (what us old timers called ‘ATF’ before the name changed.  Text of opinion here and also here.

2-1 decision says it’s unconstitutional to deny 18-year-olds their full rights under the Second Amendment.

The dissent argues that we’ve been doing it wrong for a long time so we shouldn’t restore their rights now; that it’s not the federal courts’ job to protect civil rights that Congress took away; Second Amendment rights shouldn’t be protected as strongly as other fundamental rights (intermediate scrutiny instead of strict scrutiny) because guns are dangerous; and the challenged law only applies to purchases from federally licensed firearms dealers (18-year-olds can still obtain guns from unlicensed sellers, back alleys, gun show loopholes, friends and relatives so their rights aren’t infringed by being denied purchases from licensed dealers.)

The dissent points out the prohibition on felons and mentally ill owning guns as evidence Congress can deny 18-year olds the right to buy guns because felons – crazies – teens – pretty much the same.  Senator Frank Dodd studied the issue and announced ‘a causal relationship between the easy availability of firearms other than a rifle or shotgun and juvenile and youthful criminal behavior,’ so it’s scientifically proven guns cause kids to kill.  Besides, it’s only a temporary denial of their rights – those crazy kids can buy guns as soon as they turn 21 so even though justice is delayed a few years, it’s still justice. 

The dissent goes on a great length how people over 18 but under 21 are responsible for a vast proportion of crime so it’s sensible and proper to deny them their Constitutional rights.  Seems to me that analysis could be applied to “Blacks” just as easily.  Would we be so eager to deny gun rights in that case?

What’s never mentioned is the reason the nation adopted the 26th Amendment lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.  I wonder why not?

Joe Doakes

Silliness had few consequences in the ’70s. 

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