Appeals court rules Pennsylvania can’t bar 18-to 20-year-olds from carrying guns

A federal appeals court in Pennsylvania ruled Thursday against laws banning 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying guns in public during a state of emergency.

In a 2-1 decision, judges in the 3rd U.S. Circuit relied on the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision to rule that young adults in the state have the same Second Amendment rights as other citizens, The Associated Press reported.

“The words ‘the people’ in the Second Amendment presumptively encompass all adult Americans, including 18-to-20-year-olds, and we are aware of no founding-era law that supports disarming people in that age group,” the judges wrote in the ruling. “Accordingly, we will reverse and remand.”

The Bruen decision said judges must look to the nation’s history and tradition when evaluating gun control measures, the AP noted.

The state police commissioner attempted to prove that in founding-era regulations, people under 21 were still considered minors. Circuit Judge Kent A. Jordan wrote that he did not prove such founding-era regulations restricted their Second Amendment rights.

In his dissent, Circuit Judge Felipe Restrepo said he did believe that the Founding Fathers considered people under 21 to be minors and to not have full legal rights.

Cody Wisniewski, the vice president and general counsel of the Firearms Policy Coalition, the group that represented the plaintiffs, posted a statement online following the decision.

“We applaud the Third Circuit’s decision in this case confirming that 18-to-20-year-old adults have the same right to armed self-defense as any other adult,” the organization wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “If it wasn’t for the 18-to-20-year-old adults being empowered to exercise their right to defend themselves, their loved ones, and their communities, our Nation wouldn’t exist-it would be a deep perversion of the Constitution to prevent them the same right today.”

The AP noted that Pennsylvanians must be 21 to apply for a concealed carry permit. Permit holders can carry guns during a state of emergency declared by the government.

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