NRA opens new front in gun rights battle

November 29, 2010


In two recently filed court cases that could expand gun rights if they are successful, two Lubbock men are challenging federal and state laws that limit 18-to-20-year-olds from buying handguns and carrying them as concealed weapons.

Attorneys and supporters on both sides of gun rights issues said the federal court cases pose a significant test of Texas’ concealed-handgun law and a separate, 32-year-old federal law barring handgun sales to those under age 21.

In addition, the lawsuits could significantly figure in debate about expanding gun rights when a more conservative Republican Texas Legislature convenes in January — including proposals to allow Texans to openly carry pistols and allow concealed weapons on college campuses.

“At 18 years of age, law-abiding citizens in this country are considered adults for almost all purposes and certainly for purposes of the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights,” said Chris Cox , executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action , which has filed the cases.

“The U.S. Supreme Court clearly stated that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for all law-abiding Americans. … That right is not limited only to Americans 21 years of age and older.”

Handgun-control groups warn that changing current laws would set a dangerous precedent.

“This is an unprecedented attempt to arm teenagers … even though most states currently restrict them from carrying a concealed weapon,” said Daniel Vice , senior attorney for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence . “Teen gang members could buy guns if this law is changed.”

The two 18-year-old plaintiffs in the cases — James D’Cruz and Andrew Payne — could not be reached for comment, but court filings detail their insistence that two current laws are illegally restricting their right to carry handguns.

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