LAFAYETTE, LOUISIANA (November 6, 2020) — Today, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), and the Louisiana Shooting Association (LSA) announced the filing of a new federal Second and Fifth Amendment lawsuit challenging the federal ban on the sale of handguns and handgun ammunition by federal firearm licensees (FFL) to adults under 21 years of age. The case, Reese, et al. v. BATFE, et al., can be viewed at FPCLegal.org.
In Heller, the Supreme Court held that handguns are the “quintessential self-defense weapon.” But federal statutes and regulations make it a crime for a federally licensed retailer (FFL) to transfer a handgun to adults who have not yet reached the age of twenty-one. As a result, these adults are prevented from exercising their right to keep and bear arms through the purchase of handguns and handgun ammunition for lawful purposes, including self-defense.
“People who must bear all the burdens of being an adult should not be denied the benefits of it, especially when those benefits stem from fundamental liberty interests guaranteed by the Bills of Rights,” said Ray DiGuiseppe, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. “Law-abiding adults who are under 21 years of age shoulder the same essential responsibilities as all other adults, and, in the eyes of the Constitution, they have the same fundamental rights. Yet, the federal government has denied these full-fledged citizens the right to purchase handguns and handgun ammunition, cutting off their ability to acquire the quintessential weapon of self-defense in America. That is unconstitutional. This lawsuit aims to restore the right and ability of these adults to purchase constitutionally protected handguns and ammunition for them in their lawful exercise of their Second Amendment rights.”
“Adults over the age of eighteen have the full protection of all rights under the Constitution,” said attorney Adam Kraut, FPC’s Director of Legal Strategy. “But the federal government’s ban singles out their Second Amendment rights for especially unfavorable treatment. And our nation’s history and tradition show that adults under the age of 21 not only have the same Second Amendment rights as those over the age of 21, they were often required to keep and bear arms. We look forward to striking down this unconstitutional ban and providing millions of individuals with access to their constitutional rights.”
“Throughout the colonial and founding eras, hundreds of laws required 18-to-20-year-olds to own firearms—law applying to both males and females, and laws related and unrelated to militia service,” explained Joseph Greenlee, FPC’s Director of Research. “By comparison, there were no restrictions whatsoever as to adults in this age group. If we look to the original understanding of the Second Amendment, as the Supreme Court requires, it is clear that 18-to-20-year-olds were fully protected by the right to keep and bear arms. We seek to vindicate that right in this case.”
“While both of these young men were able to vote in the recent national elections, and they can pursue other activities as legal adults, they are prevented by law from purchasing and using handguns,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “They can join the military and defend the nation, possibly at the risk of losing their lives. They can enter into contracts, start businesses, get married and even run for office. Preventing them from legally purchasing and owning handguns seems rather silly, and we believe their rights as adult citizens are being violated.”
“One mission of the Louisiana Shooting Association is to protect Americans’ right to keep and bear arms which necessarily includes their ability to acquire firearms,” said Dan Zelenka, Louisiana Shooting Association’s president. “Handguns are the firearm of choice for self-defense as well as for many types of sport shooting disciplines. Nothing in the Constitution would subject adults under the age of 21 to different rights and protections under the Second Amendment as adults over the age of 21. On behalf of our members who are currently banned under federal law, as well as our younger members who will soon be in that banned age group, the Louisiana Shooting Association is proud to be a part of this effort to stop the federal government from enforcing its unconstitutional ban.”
“The right to keep and bear arms is not a second-class right, and the law-abiding legal adults the federal government currently bans from purchasing handguns are not second-class people,” said FPC President and FPF Chairman Brandon Combs. “These adults have the fundamental, individual right to purchase handguns and handgun ammunition for all lawful purposes from the lawful retailer of their choice. If they can be asked to fight and die for our country then they can and must be guaranteed the full protection of the Constitution. FPC is committed to fighting for and protecting the rights of all responsible citizens regardless of their age. FPC will continue to fight forward and restore the Second Amendment throughout the United States in this and other cases.”
The plaintiffs, including two individuals, FPC, SAF, and LSA are represented by attorneys George J. Armbruster III, Raymond DiGuiseppe, Adam Kraut, Joseph Greenlee, and John Dillon, who is also lead counsel in a related FPC and SAF case, Jones v. Becerra, challenging the State of California’s age-based firearm ban.
The Reese case is another important lawsuit filed as part of FPC’s comprehensive strategy to defend freedom, advance individual liberty, and restore the Constitution and its guarantees for individuals throughout the United States. Individuals who wish to support the lawsuit can do so at JoinFPC.org and www.firearmspolicy.org/reese.
NOTICE -- POTENTIAL PLAINTIFFS NEEDED!
FPC is urgently seeking individual and FFL plaintiffs for a number of lawsuits that are being prepared to challenge laws and policies that infringe on fundamental rights, including (but not limited to):
- Laws and policies that prevent individuals from purchasing and/or possessing so-called “assault weapons” (semi-automatic firearms with standard characteristics) and “high-capacity” magazines (standard magazines that hold more than 10 rounds)
- Laws and policies that prevent 18-20-year-old young adults (under age 21) from obtaining handguns from FFLs and carry loaded, operable arms in public for self-defense
- Laws and policies that prevent individual adults (over the age of 18) from carrying loaded handguns and other arms outside of their home
- Laws and policies that prevent individuals from acquiring and/or possessing handguns and other arms without first acquiring a “purchase permit”
- Laws and policies that prevent individuals from acquiring or possessing firearms due to a conviction for a non-violent crime, or mental health adjudication that did not involve an involuntary commitment
- Laws that prevent honorably discharged veterans from acquiring or possessing firearms because they have been classified as “a mental defective” due to the agency’s determination that they “lack the mental capacity to contract or manage his or her own affairs” because they need assistance managing VA benefits and have a fiduciary
If someone you know meets the criteria above, or if you would be interested in participating in litigation as a supporting FFL, please contact us:
- On the web at www.firearmspolicy.org/hotline
- By email at potentialplaintiffs[at]fpchq.org
- By phone at (855) 252-4510 (FPC Legal Action Hotline available 24/7/365)
If you would like to support FPC’s Reese case and many other pro-Second Amendment lawsuits, legal action, and research, please chip in $5, $10, $25, or whatever you can at https://www.firearmspolicy.org/donate or Join the FPC Grassroots Army at JoinFPC.org.
Firearms Policy Coalition (firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend constitutional rights—especially the right to keep and bear arms—advance individual liberty, and restore freedom through litigation and legal action, legislative and regulatory action, education, outreach, grassroots activism, other programs. FPC Law is the nation’s largest public interest legal team focused on Second Amendment and adjacent fundamental rights including freedom of speech and due process, conducting litigation, research, scholarly publications, and amicus briefing, among other efforts.
Firearms Policy Foundation (firearmsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPF’s mission is to defend the Constitution of the United States and the People’s rights, privileges, and immunities deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, especially the inalienable, fundamental, and individual right to keep and bear arms, through research, education, legal action, and other charitable programs.