ByÂ Mike Ward, AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
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 â€” 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 â€” James D’Cruz and Andrew Payne â€” 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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