New York Passes Age Limit for Semi-Automatic Rifles in New Test Case Under the Second Amendment

New York has long been the source of major litigation over gun control. Indeed, these cases have resulted in some of the most significant victories for gun rights advocates. That includes the possible loss before the Supreme Court in a pending major gun rights case. Now, New York has moved to ban anyone under age 21 from buying or possessing a semi-automatic rifle in response to the recent shootings at a supermarket in Buffalo. The culprit was 18 years old. There is growing support for such age limits after the Uvalde massacre, even though a similar limit was struck down in California. An appeal is proceeding in that case.

The age limit bill passed the Senate along party lines, 43-20. There is already an age requirement for the possession of a handgun.

The age limit could pass constitutional muster despite the opposing ruling in California. There will obviously be challenges and courts will ask why this individual right should be denied to 18-20 year olds. Likewise, they will ask why high caliber weapons are not subject to such age limits. These are good-faith questions and the courts will have to resolve whether the firing rate of semi-automatic weapons justifies the need for delaying such sales or possession.

It is often said that the Second Amendment is not an absolute right. That is clearly correct. Even the First Amendment is not absolute.  This point has been made repeatedly by President Joe Biden:

“At the same time, the Second Amendment, like all other rights, is not absolute. It was just — it was Justice Scalia who wrote, and I quote, ‘like most rights, the right — Second Amendment — by the — the rights granted by the Second Amendment are not unlimited.’  Not unlimited.  It never has been.  There have always been limitations on what weapons you can own in America.”

The President has often coupled this argument with a clearly false statement about bans on certain weapons when the Second Amendment was ratified.

The reference may be to this Scalia quote from the District of Columbia v.Heller decision:

There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms. Of course the right was not unlimited, just as the First Amendment’s right of free speech was not, see, e.g., United States v. Williams, 553 U.S. 285, 128 S.Ct. 1830, 170 L.Ed.2d 650 (2008). Thus, we do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose.

Scalia did not state that there were bans on cannons or other weapons at the time of ratification. Rather, he stated that historically there were regulations of guns and specifically suggested that there could be limits on where guns are allowed for “sensitive places”:

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. See, e.g., Sheldon, in 5 Blume 346; Rawle 123; Pomeroy 152-153; Abbott 333. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. See, e.g., State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann., at 489-490; Nunn v. State, 1 Ga., at 251; see generally 2 Kent *340, n. 2; The American Students’ Blackstone 84, n. 11 (G. Chase ed. 1884). Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

The court also ruled in Heller that, while some regulations may be upheld, “the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.”

The New York law could offer an important test of the outer boundaries of this right after the Court rules in the pending case. However, we are all waiting to see if the Court will clarify the range of movement allowed under the Second Amendment.

Gun rights advocates have long objected to the use of one line from Heller by lower courts to uphold an array of gun controls: “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

The New York law falls into the category of “conditions and qualification on the commercial sale of arms.” The sustainability of that law may depend on the ruling in the next couple weeks in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen. While the case does not deal with this type of limit on rifles, it may offer dicta that clarifies how much leeway the Second Amendment allows in such conditions and qualifications.

In any case, it is likely that New York will once again be the lead jurisdiction in the next round of gun control litigation.

115 thoughts on “New York Passes Age Limit for Semi-Automatic Rifles in New Test Case Under the Second Amendment”

  1. “There is growing support for such age limits . . .”

    So a 17-year old is mature enough to join the military, but not mature enough to own a gun?!

    And such an obvious contradiction makes sense?

    1. Legal age and age of majority is 18.

      Age to obtain citizenship is 18.

      A man is a legal and citizen at 18.

      A citizen may keep and bear arms.

      The right of American citizens to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    2. I thought about this. Young people who join the military are forced through indoctrination and training to “grow up” faster than their counterparts working at Footlocker and Burger King. They learn discipline, firearm safety are given a purpose and a plan. This forced maturation could be a considered exception to new regulations. In general, I think it’s better that an 18 y.o. not so easily walk in with cash and walk out with devastating firepower.

  2. The issues here are not limited to firearms and the Second Amendment.

    Either someone is a free, law-abiding adult citizen entitled to the complete protection of his rights or he is not. Equal protection.

    There is a lot of slippage and fuzziness in the lines that are drawn between “child” and “adult”, and in large part these have slipped through, shoddily, because the demographic group that is discriminated against is not one in a great position to assert its rights versus some “evil” liberty that cannot be banned altogether, but is seen as ripe for somehow restricting as much as possible in other ways, such as, e.g. drinking.

    But is it really lawful to isolate out an artificially-drawn demographic group comprising millions because of the behavior of a relative handful of people who arguably are members of that group?

    Was the Las Vegas shooter a teenager? Pretty awful event there. Perhaps we should restrict from firearm usage men over 55 whose fathers were bank robbers.

    Or how about the demographic group that by percentages of the group actually commits the most violent gun crimes — black men under age 30. Would that fly? It makes logical sense. No? Why not?

  3. In the late 1970’s I was a teenager and virtually every boy I knew would have a semi-auto rifle in his vehicle (I had a lever action 30-30) because many of us hunted before and after school.
    No one ever shot a human, much less go an a mass killing spree.

    1. Same here. We were used to handling guns responsibly. It isn’t the guns that changed.

  4. “Texas grandpa, four grandsons allegedly slaughtered by escaped inmate ID’d”

    If he had a gun on him, would 5 people still be alive?

  5. A funny TV commercial for prune juice could be made involving Redcoats and a regular militia.

  6. Did you ever notice how democrats like passing state laws and go right to federal legislation.


      Did you ever notice how Southern states trample the rights of poor people while claiming ‘states rights’?

      1. Which Article and Section provide the aforementioned “poor people” rights?

        Are you out of your ——- mind?

        “the people are nothing but a great beast…

        I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value.”

        – Alexander Hamilton

        “The true reason (says Blackstone) of requiring any qualification, with regard to property in voters, is to exclude such persons, as are in so mean a situation, that they are esteemed to have no will of their own.”

        “If it were probable that every man would give his vote freely, and without influence of any kind, then, upon the true theory and genuine principles of liberty, every member of the community, however poor, should have a vote… But since that can hardly be expected, in persons of indigent fortunes, or such as are under the immediate dominion of others, all popular states have been obliged to establish certain qualifications, whereby, some who are suspected to have no will of their own, are excluded from voting; in order to set other individuals, whose wills may be supposed independent, more thoroughly upon a level with each other.”

        – Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, 1775


        Did you ever notice how leftists kill babies in the womb, kill elderly with mercy killing, throw the elderly in nursing homes, tear down family, marriage and children, destroy US institutions and come across as holier than thou in moralizing?

  7. In my state a few years ago the legislature wanted to ban people under 21 from even firing a full automatic weapon. But they couldn’t. 18 year olds wouldn’t be able to perform their duties in the national guard.

    1. RE:””In my state a few years ago the legislature wanted to ban people under 21 from even firing a full automatic weapon. But they couldn’t. 18 year olds wouldn’t be able to perform their duties in the national guard.””” Not under Federal auspices unless made so by the President. Hence subject to state law.

  8. The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is fundamental law, which necessarily requires citizens to secure the “free State” and its Constitution, through the kinetic action of militias, which are populated with citizens who keep and bear arms in their domicile, and who are prepared and stand ready to secure the “free State” on a moment’s notice, and, it is understood that, the 2nd Amendment equally allows citizens to keep and bear arms to engage in legal activities including, but not limited to, engaging in sport, hunting for food, and protecting and defending their persons, families and property.

    2nd Amendment

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

  9. Karen S says:

    How can a constitutional right be removed from an adult?

    Karen, ask Justice Alito how a constitutional right can be removed from an adult.

    And you’re worried about an 18 year old’s right to buy military style rifles..?

    1. What Constitutional right was removed? Alito corrected a mistake. Is that the Constitutional right you are talking about?


        Anonymous, the majority of Americans think Alito is wrong. What’s more, the 1973 court had fresh memories of the pre-Roe era. Alito lacks that insight.

        1. It is one thing for the Supreme Court to determine it was wrong about the existence of an unenumerated constitutional right; it is quite another for Congress or a state legislature to legislate in violation of a currently recognised enumerated right.

          I think it highly likely that the Supreme Court would consider a ban on semi-automatic rifles inconsistent with the second amendment, since the applicable standard for a firearm to be covered by the second amendment currently appears to be whether it is in common use for a lawful purpose. Assuming semi-automatic rifles are covered, it is also likely, though not certain, that imposing an age limit of 21 for the purchase of such a weapon would also appear to be inconsistent with the second amendment. That is what the 9th Circuit has found, though the 4th Circuit held otherwise, after it concluded that semi-automatic rifles were not covered at all by the second amendment.

          It is also unclear whether banning high capacity magazines would survive scrutiny, since some say that would render a very large number of lawful firearms unusable.

        2. “Anonymous, the majority of Americans think Alito is wrong.”

          1)Where is your data?
          2)What does the majority of people think Alito did that was wrong?
          3)If what you said meant anything we wouldn’t need a Supreme Court
          4)Have you ever heard of the tyranny of the majority?

        3. Anonymous, the majority of Americans think Alito is wrong.

          Not 1% of Americans could discus Constitutional case law for more than 60 seconds. So polls like that only serve to feed leftists wrong ideas.

    2. Anonymous:

      As has been explained to you repeatedly, the AR-15 is not a military style weapon. It has always been a civilian weapon. Military style rifles are the M-16s, XM5, and XM250.

      Automatic weapons are “weapons of war.”

      The overwhelming majority of civilian firearms are semi-automatic. Unless you’re skeet shooting, have a Colt single action revolver, or a pump action shotgun, you don’t typically have single action.

      The AR-15 is a civilian semi-automatic rifle with a pistol grip. It’s got black plastic parts, which make it easier to carry, and its design has less recoil, which really helps if you have neck, back, or shoulder issues.

      It “looks” milaryish. If it was pink, and had a rifle stock instead of a pistol grip, it would shoot the same. It does not magically blow the organs right out of your body.

      I’m worried about constitutional rights. If you’re not, why not? Are some rights more equal than others? Is that pesky Constitution in your way again?

      I’ve noticed that the Democrat Party frequently has a problem with the Constitution. Yet they accuse conservatives of creating a “Constitutional crisis.” Projecting.

      1. RE:””I’ve noticed that the Democrat Party frequently has a problem with the Constitution….” That’s because the framers intended for the Constitution to put limits on government and said limits do not serve the Democrat Party’s agenda.

  10. U.S. citizens may vote at the age of 18.

    Immigrants may become U.S. citizens at the age of 18.

    U.S. citizens are legal adults and of the age of majority at 18.

    U.S. citizens must be 18 and have the right to keep and bear arms at that age.

  11. Besides, the right to get plastered isn’t enumerated in the Bill of Rights like the right to bear arms is. The right to bear arms is much more important, its enumeration a function of its importance.

  12. If the right to keep and bear arms is not absolute, the right to keep and bear arms does not exist.

    If the right to private property is not absolute, the right to private property does not exist.

    If constitutional rights and freedoms are not absolute, constitutional rights and freedoms do not exist.

    If constitutional rights and freedoms do not exist, America is subjugated under a dictatorship.

    And America is subjugated under the communist “dictatorship of the proletariat,” the entire American welfare state is illicit, illegitimate and unconstitutional.

    The entire communistic American welfare state is unconstitutional including, but not limited to, matriculation affirmative action, grade-inflation affirmative action, employment affirmative action, quotas, welfare, food stamps, minimum wage, rent control, social services, forced busing, public housing, utility subsidies, WIC, SNAP, TANF, HAMP, HARP, TARP, HHS, HUD, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Labor, Energy, Obamacare, Social Security, Social Security Disability, Social Security Supplemental Income, Medicare, Medicaid, “Fair Housing” laws, “Non-Discrimination” laws, etc.

    Article 1, Section 8, provides Congress the power to tax ONLY for “…general Welfare…,” omitting and, thereby, excluding any power to tax for individual welfare, specific welfare, particular welfare, favor or charity. The same article provides Congress the power to regulate ONLY money, the “flow” of commerce, and land and naval Forces. Additionally, the 5th Amendment right to private property is not qualified by the Constitution and is, therefore, absolute, allowing Congress no power to claim or exercise dominion over private property, the sole exception being the power to “take” private property for public use.

    Government exists, under the Constitution and Bill of Rights, to provide maximal freedom to individuals while it is severely limited and restricted to merely facilitating that maximal freedom of individuals through the provision of security and infrastructure only.

    The Constitution does not guarantee the success or failure of any citizen, or any group of citizens.

    Americans are free; government is not.

    It will be a glorious day when Americans wake up and realize that.

    If a person promotes the illegitimacy of one or all constitutional rights and freedoms, that person is a direct and mortal enemy of the United States.

    If a person incites to “…fundamentally transforming the United States…,” including fundamental law, that person is a direct and mortal enemy of the United States.

    1. The only thing that’s absolute is your ability to protect and defend your constitutional rights. The 2nd amendment.

  13. Does this mean that 18 year old service members will not be allowed to do any target practice at boot camp? It defeats the purpose of them being in the military at all if they can’t be in possession of a rifle. Will they just have to sing Queen songs until they are 21?

    1. RE:”Does this mean that 18 year old service members will not be allowed to do any target practice at boot camp?…” No it does not!

  14. When an 18 year old service member is issued a rifle, he is in legal possession of the rifle, even though he is not the owner of the rifle. How will this square with this new law?


      The drinking age is 21 in most states regardless of military service.

    2. RE:”When an 18 year old service member is issued a rifle, he is in legal possession of the rifle, even though he is not the owner of the rifle. How will this square with this new law?…”He is not buying the weapon. He in legal possession of the weapon, issued to him under Federal jurisdiction, which preempts that of NYS, and will be using it within the scope of his duties and responsibilities as a member of the armed forces of the United States of America, not as an ordinary citizen who legally owns the weapon. Nor will the weapon be stored or housed in the domicile of the user. That’s all I have to say in the matter, notwithstanding anything else you might necessary to respond with in order to continue this absurdity. Let the legal process hash this out. In the mean time, suggest you turn your attention to NYS ‘no cash bail’ legislation, the beneficiaries of which the gun legislation will no doubt further serve to protect.

  15. How can a constitutional right be removed from an adult?

    While critics do have a point that an 18 year old would have a lower maturity level, on average, than a 25 year old, one becomes a legal adult at 18.

    I have long felt that there needs to be one age of maturity in America. One age where you can get married, join the military, live independently, buy alcohol, and rent a car.

    If you’re not old enough to buy a gun or a beer, how can you be old enough to join the military or get married?

    The problem wasn’t that the shooter was only 18.

    The problem was:

    1. The shooter showed signs of violence yet had no mental health record for a NICS background check to flag
    2. Gov Abbott passed 17 bills and allocated hundreds of millions of dollars for school safety, including hardening schools and requiring safety strategies, yet procedures were not followed.
    3. The school resource officer was not on campus, for reasons still unknown.
    4. The school was not put on lockdown when the shooter crashed his truck right outside and shot at 2 people.
    5. The shooter entered through an unlocked and unmonitored back door.
    6. The shooter entered the 4th grade classroom through an unlocked door.
    7. Although Uvalde police took the required active shooter training, they inexplicably treated the situation as a barricaded suspect with hostages, delaying to obtain a negotiator, backup, tactical gear, etc.
    8. Local cops interfered with an delayed BORTAC until they finally went in anyway and took the maniac out.
    9. Frantic parents pleaded with cops to go in and save their kids for over 45 minutes.
    10. When cops did not go in, parents tried to enter the school to rescue their kids or die trying, but were prevented by local police. However, an off duty cop was allowed in to save his own kid, and others along the way. While audible, this is exactly what that crowd of desperate parents wanted to do.
    11. Inaccurate information was given to the state and local government, and the media

    This isn’t a simple matter of banning a single model gun, or making it harder for 18 year olds to buy a gun. None of the laws we’ve passed will actually work if they aren’t implemented.

    All they had to do was LOCK THE DOOR, and have the school resource officer ACTUALLY THERE. As a mother myself, the catastrophic series of system failures, one by one like falling dominoes, haunts me.

    Similar failures occurred at Stoneman Douglas.

    We cannot assume that the school districts or even local law enforcement are properly trained and knowledgable in all safety protocols.

    Schools should begin with reading the Stoneman Douglas safety commission report (

    We as a nation have failed to learn from loopholes and weaknesses that previous mass murderers have exploited. The unfortunate truth is that ever since Columbine gripped the nation in terror, there will always be copycats. Yet most schools in America appear to be completely unprepared to deal with targeted assaults.

    We’ve waisted how much money on transgender curriculum, drag queen story hour, BLM antiracist propaganda, the debunked 1619 project, and all the other pet projects of the Left in our schools. The petty and tyrannical Biden Administration now holds federal lunch money for poor kids hostage unless schools agree to incorporate transgender propaganda in schools and harass or punish students who use grammatically and biologically accurate pronouns. We shouldn’t spend a dime other than for rigorous academic instruction, tutoring for any student who’s behind regardless of race, and other core expenses, plus school security. Rural schools should be just as secure as those in expensive neighborhoods. Security funding should not be tied to the property taxes in the area, like other funding is.

    There is so much wasteful spending in this country. Politicians are figuratively throwing money out the window to get reelected, like it grows on trees. We should go over every line item of the budget, cut the fat, make securing schools a priority, and ensure that the districts COMPLY.

    1. More of Karen’s BS. Yeah, Karen, the problem is “drag queens”, “trangenders”, “BLM propaganda”, “pet projects of the Left”, and “petty and tyrannical Biden Administration”, not mentally ill people who have easy access to assault rifles and high capacity clips that can turn children into hamburger meat in a matter of seconds, so that they need DNA to be identified.. You don’t speak for “we” or “us”. “Securing schools” isn’t the answer, either, and neither is handgun training for teachers or more cops in schools. Schools shouldn’t have the aura of armed bunkers with gun toting cops at each entrance and pistol-packing teachers in every classroom. Your alt right media are using these recent tragedies to get in licks at everything from LGBTQ people to the Biden administration, and you sop it up like the disciple you are.

      The USA is the only place on earth with this problem. No other country has the statistic of gun violence being the leading cause of death for children age 1 to 18. And, the issue isn’t “loopholes and weaknesses that previous mass murderers have exploited”, either. None of these recent mass killings was targeted, except for the one in Tulsa, in which a patient had tried repeatedly to get help for post-operative pain following back surgery and was ignored. Something has to be done to identify mentally ill people capable of such acts, which would admittedly be difficult, but one thing is for certain: if assault type weapons were banned, along with high-capacity clips, this would definitely be something that can prevent future tragedies. Cops were swarming outside of the school in Uvalde, TX for over an hour. Even the presence of lots of cops, some with their dumb cowboy hats, didn’t prevent the shooter from continuing to kill chldren and their teachers, or preventing medical care for those who were still alive and bleeding to death in front of children. More cops are clearly not the answer.

      Oh, and you want to know how a “constitutional right” can be taken away from an adult? First of all, there’s serious disagreement as to whether the Second Amendment applies to individuals in the first place. Former Chief Justice Warren Burger said in a 1991 interview that the notion of an individual right to carry guns, which he considered fraudulent, was pushed by the NRA, and that there is no such Constitutional right. Secondly, the 2nd Amendment speaks to a “well-regulated militia”, so if a millita can be not just “regulated” but “well-regulated”, why can’t individuals owing and using assault rifles with high capacity magazines be regulated, even if there is a Constitutional right to own and carry guns, which is dubious. As to a Constitutional right, which about the right of privacy, and personal liberty in the form of terminating an unwanted pregnancy before the age of fetal viability? That was a recognized Constitutional right until the fat one cheated his way into office and appointed judges chosen by the Federalist Society primarily to reverse Roe v. Wade. What about the Constitutional right to free and fair elections that Republicans are trying to take away from the American people by kicking Democrats off of local election boards and appointing election deniers to replace them, gerrymandering, curtailing early voting and making it harder for probable Democrats to vote? What about the Constitutional right of the American people to choose their leader? Oh, I guess Hannity didn’t cover that one.

      1. The USA is the only place on earth with this problem. No other country has the statistic of gun violence being the leading cause of death for children age 1 to 18.

        This is flatly false.

        Brazil, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa has higher criminal homicide rates.

        1. Nat is just repeating the Progressive talking points they have been handed. All jibberish.

      2. “Your alt right media are using these recent tragedies to get in licks at everything from LGBTQ people to the Biden administration, and you sop it up like the disciple you are.”

        You forgot the “I” and the “A”……do better, please, to not offend or misgender the I’s and the A’s.

        Btw, the LGB’s have had enough of all the TQIA bullsh*t now, as well as the rest of country….try to keep up to date with your programming Nuthatch.

      3. Everyone with a sense of smell knows they are coving something up about the Uvalde shooting. There’s a coverup going on. It stinks to high heaven.

  16. Did you see the next Supreme Court Justice sitting and cheering on gun grabs at a foreign politician’s speech? Ketanji be like, Yeah! Seize the guns! Political activism at its worst. America, we are in deep, deep trouble as a country. Fear government more, not less. Annie, get your guns if you haven’t already.

      1. Why 14 and not 12 or 16?

        Answer: Again, arbitrary and entirely bereft of relevant science which is nonexistent.

        What sane person would allow an 18-year-old to vote?

        Answer: None.

        The American Founders established a severely restricted-vote republic, distinctly not a one man, one vote democrazy.

        Vote criteria in 1788 was generally European, male, age 21, and 50 lbs. Sterling/50 acres.

        That was rational and reasonable, safe and sane, and an extension of vote restrictions required at the inception of republican democracy in Greece, which was perpetuated in Rome and perfected in America.

        Ultimately, the vote is far less important than the “manifest tenor” of the Constitution.

        The Founders set the right to vote at the legal age of majority, 18, plus 3 years of refinement, experience, vesting and accomplishment, or 21 years of age.

        The 26 Amendment was passed by communists attempting to secure their power by allowing the vote to nescient, incompetent, unaccomplished and dependent parasites.

        America has not been constitutional or rational since “Crazy Abe” Lincoln’s “Reign of Terror.”

        Women are men, men are women, more Americans die than are born, money grows on printing-press trees, the population is foreigners, the nation has no borders, public workers make exponentially more money than the taxpayers they “serve” and that pay for them, and thoughts, speech and private property are under the strict control of the communist government.

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