Federal judge lifts age limit for small arms in Texas

DALLAS — A federal judge has lifted one of the few remaining firearms restrictions in Texas and found a law prohibiting adults under 21 from carrying a gun was unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman in Fort Worth ruled on Thursday that the state law that prohibits most 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying a gun outdoors violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms and cannot be used. enforced. He kept the ruling in effect for 30 days.

The decision came in a case brought last year by a gun rights advocacy group and a man and woman who claimed they should be able to carry handguns for protection, despite being under 21. They sued five months after Texas lifted one of its last major gun restrictions, allowing people over 21 to carry handguns without a license, background check or training.

Pittman, an appointee of President Donald Trump, ruled in favor of the pair and the Firearms Policy Coalition Inc. based on “the text of the Second Amendment, as informed by the history and tradition of the Founding-Era.”

The decision follows a major extension of gun rights by the US Supreme Court. After a series of mass shootings, the Supreme Court ruled in June that Americans have the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense.

Cody Wisniewski, an attorney for the Firearms Policy Coalition, said Pittman’s decision “is a major victory for young adult rights in Texas and demonstrates to the rest of the nation that similar bans cannot withstand constitutional challenges raised in the United States.” history are rooted.”

A spokeswoman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican whose office defended the law in court, did not immediately respond to questions, including whether the state will appeal.

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The ruling comes amid renewed calls in Texas for tougher gun laws after the May massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, where an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two teachers with a legally purchased AR-15 rifle.

Although Texas had maintained age restrictions on gun sales, the age limit for buying long guns in the state is 18. Many Uvalde families have joined Democrats and gun control advocates by calling on lawmakers to set the age to buy guns. to 21 years.

Uvalde’s parents are also expected to call for tougher gun control measures at a rally at the Texas Capitol on Saturday. Neither Republican administration Greg Abbott nor the GOP’s overwhelming majority in the state legislature have expressed support for new gun measures since Uvalde.

Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa on Friday rejected the court’s new ruling and urged Abbott to convene a special legislative session to pass “meaningful, broad-based gun safety laws.”


Associated Press reporter Paul J. Weber in Austin contributed to this report.

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