Aug 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Federal judge strikes down Texas gun ban on adults under 21

Glock hanguns displayed at a 2018 NRA meeting in Dallas. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A federal judge in Fort Worth, Texas, struck down a state law prohibiting adults under 21 from carrying guns.

Why it matters: U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman's order and opinion that the Second Amendment "as informed by Founding-era history and tradition" does not exclude 18- to 20-year-olds is the first significant legal decision since a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on guns in June, Reuters notes.

Driving the news: Gun-rights advocacy nonprofit the Firearms Policy Coalition and two adult plaintiffs younger than 21 filed a lawsuit last November challenging the Texas law, arguing that adults under 21 were "fully protected by the Second Amendment at the time of its ratification," the New York Times reports.

  • In June, hours before the U.S. Senate cleared a key procedural hurdle on its landmark gun safety bill that passed the next day, the Supreme Court struck down a New York law that set a high bar for people to get conceal-carry permits, citing Second Amendment rights.

The big picture: Texas gun restrictions have eased in recent years, even as mass shootings like the one at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde have rocked the state, per the NYT — which notes that people who were 21 or younger were behind six of the nine deadliest shooting massacres in the U.S. since 2018.

What they're saying: Cody Wisniewski, a senior attorney for the Firearms Policy Coalition, in a statement to news outlets called the ruling "a significant victory for the rights of young adults in Texas and demonstrates for the rest of the nation that similar bans cannot withstand constitutional challenges grounded in history."

Meanwhile, Shannon Watts, founder of the gun-control organization Moms Demand Action, in a statement called the Texas ruling "yet another example of a radical court operating wildly out of step with the American people and the Constitution," per the NYT.

  • "After hearing Uvalde survivors demanding common-sense gun safety measures — including raising the age to buy an assault weapon — a Trump-appointed judge in Texas just issued a dangerous ruling that would allow teenagers to carry handguns in public," she added.

What we're watching: Pittman stayed the injunction for 30 days, pending appeal.

Go deeper