Response brief filed in challenge of handgun ban for young adults

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs in a challenge of the federal ban on handgun sales to young adults have filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals, explaining why the ruling by the district court striking down the ban should be upheld.

The Second Amendment Foundation was originally a party to the case but withdrew and is now financially supporting it.

Plaintiffs are the West Virginia Citizens Defense League and two private citizens, Benjamin Weekley and Steven Brown. They are represented by attorneys David H. Thompson, Peter A. Patterson, and William V. Bergstrom at Cooper & Kirk in Washington, D.C., and Adam Kraut, who also serves as SAF executive director.

The case is known as Brown v. ATF and was originally filed in September 2022. Defendants are the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, ATF Director Steven Dettelbach, and Attorney General Merrick Garland, in their official capacities. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

At the district court, a government motion to dismiss was denied, while the plaintiffs were granted a summary judgment. However, the district court granted a stay requested by the government pending appeal.

“There can be no doubt that the plain text of the Second Amendment protects the rights of 18- to 20-year-olds to purchase firearms,” said Alan M. Gottlieb, SAF founder and executive vice president. “While the handgun purchase ban does not prohibit Weekley or Brown from receiving a handgun as a gift or from buying one from someone who is not in the business of selling firearms, it does entirely cut them off from the regulated commercial market, which is more than enough to implicate the Second Amendment. The amendment states that the right ‘shall not be infringed,’ and anything that hinders the exercise of that right ‘infringes’ it.”

“It was common practice at the time of the founding to treat 18-20-year-olds as having full Second Amendment rights,” Kraut said. “The government contends the district court should not have granted injunctive relief, but we believe that decision should be upheld, and we will make that argument to the appeals court in early May.”

Republished with permission from Second Amendment Foundation.

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