Federal Judge Strikes Down Federal Age Limit on Gun Purchases

U.S. Senior District Judge Robert Payne has delivered another blow to the Administration’s effort to limit gun rights. In a 65-page decision,  Judge Payne ruled that the Second Amendment protects people 18-20 who were barred under the regulations from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Federal licensed dealers were previously told that they could not sell to buyers below the age of 21. The case is Fraser v. BATFE, U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82432(Eastern District, Va. May 10, 2023).

The Biden Administration argued that 18- to 20-year-olds are not part of “the people” protected under the Second Amendment. It argued that the “age of majority” was 21 at the founding and that the Framers did not intend to protect the rights of citizens below the age of 21 for the purposes of gun purchases.

It is an argument with sweeping implications. If the Second Amendment does not protect those under 21, what about other rights like those under the First Amendment?

Moreover, when age was a key exclusion, the Framers would state so, including the right to hold office.

Historically, guns have been part of American culture with many introduced to hunting at young ages. Moreover, historical sites note that “the average age of soldiers who served in the Continental Army was 18 to 20 years old, some as young as 14.” Some child soldiers like Daniel Granger were only 13 and presumably could buy the weapons that they used against the British.

While acknowledging that the word “purchase” does not appear in the Second Amendment, Judge Payne noted:

“Commonsense and logic tell us that, unless one is a maker of guns, the right to “keep”/have a gun necessarily means that one must purchase it, steal it, be given it by another, or find one that another has lost. That, of course, includes a handgun which was the subject “arms” in Heller. 554 U.S. at 628. Thus, given its ordinary, commonsense, and logical meaning the right to “keep arms” (the right to “have”) of necessity includes the right, inter alia, to purchase arms. That then puts an end to the textual inquiry with the conclusion that the conduct at issue is protected by the plain text of the Second Amendment.”

This issue is already creating a split among the courts. While there are no direct appellate rulings on the issue, the Fifth, Seventh, and Eleventh circuits have discussed the question. Nat’l Rifle Ass’n., 700 F.3d at 203-04Horsley v. Trame, 808 F.3d 1126, 1131 (7th Cir. 2015)Nat’l Rifle Assoc. v. Bondi, 61 F.4th 1317, 1324 (11th Cir. 2023). The Fourth and the Ninth Circuits have held that 18-to-20-year-olds are part of “the people” protected by the Second Amendment. Hirschfeld v. ATF, 5 F.4th 407 (4th Cir. 2021)vacated by 14 F.4th 322 (4th Cir. 2021)Jones v. Bonta, 34 F.4th 704 (9th Cir. 2022)opinion vacated on reh’g47 F.4th 1124 (9th Cir. 2022). District courts have split on the issue.

The Biden Administration is pushing a series of collateral limits on gun possessions and purchases into the appellate courts. The age limit cases are now becoming ripe for review by the Supreme Court, which is likely to approach the Administration’s sweeping argument on “the age of majority” for the Second Amendment with skepticism.

106 thoughts on “Federal Judge Strikes Down Federal Age Limit on Gun Purchases”

    1. The most horrific school killing in US history did not involve a single gun.

      Some people are violent. The problem is people.

      For most of human history 25% of humans died violently – this was long before there was a gun.
      One of the problems with left wing nuts is that CONSTANTLY they are clueless about the causes of the problems they seek to fix.

      For the past 40 years violence steadily declined – until the past few years when it suddenly started rising again.

      A wise person would ask -= WHAT CHANGED.,

      Left wing nuts jump knee jerk to guns. But nothing about guns has changed in the past few years.
      And over the past 40 years – if corelation is causation then Guns REDUCE violence. That is likely true – but we actually need more than correlation to establish that.

      Regardless, what is without any doubt true is that more guns does NOT result in more violence.

      There are however things that DO cause more violence.

      Rising rates of anxiety and depression cause violence.
      More chaos results in more violence.
      We actually KNOW that DOJ Consent decrees against Police departments result in more violence in those cities.
      More drugs result in more violence.
      More alcohol results in more violence.

      There are a long list of other factors that we suspect contribute to more violence.
      As an example – all or nearly all mass shootings occur in “gun free zones” like schools.

      Regardless, many of us would be happy to engage in rational discussions as to how to reduce violence.

      But we are not interested in feel good measures that we already know will accomplish nothing.

      More simply – bring to the debate an argument with credible evidence to support it.

      IF what you come to the table with is “gun control” – you should be expect to be treated as the idiot you are.

    2. David, why not look more closely at gun violence? https://heyjackass.com is a site for Chicago murders where you can look at the map of where the murders are and their demographics. It says something the left doesn’t want to hear, but this site is updated to keep those people informed.

      Here are some of the results: May to date: Shot and wounded 111 Total shot and killed 25

      A person in Chicago is shot every: 3h:28m and Killed every: 16h:16m

      The site even shows shot placement for those that know the subject, like the police officers on the blog. They might like the extensive information provided.

      This is a Democrat city run by Democrats for decades with the strictest gun control. Check out the other Democrat-run cities. You will find a similar problem in many,

      Here is an example of one portion of the city’s demographics where there is a lot of shooting and killing. https://www.cmap.illinois.gov/documents/10180/126764/Austin.pdf

      Guns don’t kill, Democrats do.

  1. And we can never forget it’s all a ruse…….they will do anything and everything to what our rights. This too is another rusd! That will take a seller to stand his ground. It’s always just targeting the people with and without standong..so no body does! Let me tell them. I own a 16 guage….and a double barrel from dad. It’s mine….and I don’t intend to fo!low their laws! It’s mine!

  2. The age limit cases are now becoming ripe for review by the Supreme Court, which is likely to approach the Administration’s sweeping argument on “the age of majority” for the Second Amendment with skepticism.

    IOW, these Democrat-pushed laws are likely to create Scotus precedent favorable to an expansive reading of the Second Amendment.

    As I mentioned a few days ago, the blue-state politicians get brownie points for passing the laws, and the Second Amendment gets strengthened through court precedent. That’s fine with the politicians as it enhances their chances of re-election – the main thing all politicians care about.

  3. States Lowered Drinking Age To 18, Then Raised It Back Up

    From 1969 to 1976, some 30 states lowered their purchase ages, generally to 18. This was primarily because the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1971 with the passing into law of the 26th amendment.

    In 1984, Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which required states to raise their ages for purchase and public possession to 21 by October 1986 or lose 10% of their federal highway funds. By mid-1988, all 50 states and the District of Columbia had raised their purchase ages to 21.

    Edited From:



    18 year old drinking laws became a fiasco. Too many kids were driving drunk!!

    Professor Turley grew up in Illinois at a time when that state’s drinking law was 21 while Wisconsin’s remained at 18. Consequently, kids from Chicago suburbs drove north, to Wisconsin, for nights of drinking, then had horrific accidents, returning to Illinois. Perhaps Turley himself had made that trip.

    The point is that kids aren’t mature enough at 18 to handle legal drinking.

    1. “The point is that kids aren’t mature enough at 18 to handle legal drinking.”

      You’re conflating purchase age and consumption/serving age. There are numerous states that allow alcohol consumption (and even serving) alcohol at 18.

  4. It is a waste of time to prevent the sale of all guns to people younger than 21 years. First, the sliver of people who fall into the ages of 18-20 is too small to have a major effect on mass killings, which I assume are the main concern. Second, the problem is not all guns, but semi-automatic guns. So, the regulation is both too narrow (as to persons) and too broad (as to guns). Congress needs to develop an accurate profile of mass killers and then pass a law that prevents semi-automatic guns from getting into the hands of those people, whatever their ages. There will likely be abuse in their backgrounds, suicidal tendencies, and threats of violence. And,of course, most will be young men. Two%20Professors%20Found%20What%20Creates%20a%20Mass%20Shooter.%20Will%20Politicians%20Pay%20Attention_%20-%20POLITICO.pdf A national statute supported by both parties would probably survive a constitutional challenge. As Justice Jackson said: “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.”

    1. @Edwardmahl,

      Do you not understand the issue?
      In the US, you are considered in your majority… that you are an adult when you hit 18.
      You are able to vote, be drafted (if there was a draft) , etc …

      So its a violation of your 2A rights to deny you the right to purchase a gun.

      Do you not realize that its not the gun, but the person?
      That its a common 9mm pistol that is the most commonly used weapon in what the FBI defines as a mass shooting?


      1. Ian – The Constitution, especially the “Bill Rights”, is like the Old Testament: full of verities, but not to be take literally. The Founders would be horrified to see that we find we are unable to deal with mass shootings because people take the language of the Second Amendment literally.

        1. So if the Supreme Law of the Land is not to be taken literally, why take inferior laws literally?

          If a gangbanger sees someone wearing the wrong color clothes in his gang’s turf, why should he take laws against murder literally?

    2. Here’s your profile of who commits the majority of gun violence: black males between 15 and 35. Secondarily, young male “Hispanics”.

      Here’s your profile of most mass school and “gun-free-zone” shooters: young men (and now we’ve seen a “trans man”) wIth a history of taking SSRI pharmaceuticals.Usually first brain damaged in childhood with ADD/ADHD diagnoses.

  5. Darren

    There is an article you might find of interest regarding our previous discussion on obesity, nutritional habits, and morbidity/mortality rates. The article is behind a pay wall and I am unaware of how to access the article without having a subscription to the medical journal (Nature) or through a university server. Perhaps you can find a PDF somewhere or visit your local university. Peter Libby MD is beyond reproach when it comes to all things atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. His scientific disposition is admirable

    Here’s the citation:

    Libby P. The changing landscape of atherosclerosis. Nature. 2021 Apr;592(7855):524-533. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03392-8.


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