A federal judge who was appointed by former President Donald Trump has ruled that a Texas law banning anyone under 21 from carrying handguns in public violates the Constitution.
The ruling by District Court Judge Mark Pittman comes weeks after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment allows Americans to carry guns in public for self-defense, according to CNN. Pittman was nominated by Trump in 2019 and confirmed by the Senate that same year.
Pittman focused his ruling upon the intent of the Founders in writing the Second Amendment.
“The issue is whether prohibiting law-abiding 18-to-20-year-olds from carrying a handgun in public for self-defense is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” Pittman wrote, according to the ruling.
“Based on the Second Amendment’s text, as informed by Founding-Era history and tradition, the Court concludes that the Second Amendment protects against this prohibition,” the ruling said. “Texas’s statutory scheme must therefore be enjoined to the extent that law-abiding 18-to-20-year-olds are prohibited from applying for a license to carry a handgun.”
Pittman’s ruling opened with the comment that “The Second Amendment protects the right of ‘the people’ to keep and bear arms for self-defense.”
It follows with a footnote reading, “No less than the great civil rights leader Frederick Douglas wrote that ‘the liberties of the American people were dependent upon the Ballot-box, the Jury-box, and the Cartridge-box, that without these no class of people could live and flourish in this country.’”
Pittman’s legal argument continues by writing, “Are law-abiding 18-to-20-year-olds a part of ‘the people’ mentioned in the Second Amendment? As explained below, the Court concludes that they are.”
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Pittman said the Second Amendment does not impose limits on self-defense.
“To start, the Second Amendment does not mention any sort of age restriction. This absence is notable—when the Framers meant to impose age restrictions, they did so expressly,” he wrote.
Even when focusing on the term “militia,” Pittman said the Texas law violates the intent of the Founders.
“[A]t the Founding, the ‘militia’ was generally understood to be comprised of “all able-bodied men,” which included 18-to-20-year-olds, he wrote, adding, “Thus, the undisputed historical evidence establishes that 18-to-20-year-olds were understood to be a part of the militia in the Founding Era.”
“And because 18-to-20-year-olds were (and are) a part of the militia, the Second Amendment must protect their right to keep and bear arms,” he wrote.
Pittman wrote that the Second Amendment and American tradition are clear on the subject.
“The Court thus concludes the plain text of the Second Amendment, as informed by Founding-Era history and tradition, covers the proposed course of conduct and permits law-abiding 18-to-20-year-olds to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home,” he wrote. He cited case law to support his opinion that the Texas laws “cannot sufficiently establish that a prohibition on law-abiding 18-to-20-year-olds carrying a handgun in public for self-defense is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”
“Texas cannot point to a single Founding Era law that prohibited 18-to-20-year-olds from carrying a functional firearm for self-defense, because not only did no such law exist, but those individuals are an important reason why we have a Bill of Rights in the first place,” Cody Wisniewski, the Firearms Policy Coalition’s senior attorney for Constitutional litigation, said, according to CNN.
“And young people have just as much a right to keep and bear arms in public as adults over the age of 21,“ he said.