Texas drops fight to prevent 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying handguns in public

ByRoxanna Asgarian, The Texas Tribune
Thursday, December 22, 2022
TX drops fight to stop young adults from carrying handguns in public
A federal judge ruled earlier this year that a state law banning young adults from publicly carrying handguns is unconstitutional. The state no longer plans to appeal that ruling.

Texas will no longer fight to ban 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying handguns in public. A judge ruled earlier this year that a state law banning the practice was unconstitutional, and Texas initially filed a notice that it would appeal. But Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw withdrew the appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week.

U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman's ruling was the first major decision about Texas gun laws since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the Second Amendment protected individuals who carry weapons for self-defense.

In September, the state filed a notice of appeal, which angered gun rights activists.

"Once again, government officials in the state of Texas are proven to be anti-gun stooges," Dudley Brown, the president of the National Association for Gun Rights, said in a news release at the time.

Neither the notice of appeal nor the withdrawal listed legal arguments or reasons for doing so; DPS and the Texas attorney general's office could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Firearms Policy Coalition, which, along with two teenagers, brought the suit against the state, released a statement celebrating the latest development.

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"Texas allows people to carry guns in public without a permit and a background check," said one expert. "Generally speaking, Texas just has overall weaker laws than many states."

"We applaud Texas for doing the right thing and accepting the district court's ruling against its law prohibiting 18-to-20-year-old adults from carrying firearms in public," said Cody J. Wisniewski, FPC's senior attorney for constitutional litigation, adding, "Young adults have the same constitutionally protected right to bear arms as all other adults."

The Supreme Court's June decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen has caused a wave of gun control laws in various states to be challenged or struck down. In November, U.S. District Judge David Counts ruled that banning someone under a protective order from possessing a gun violated their Second Amendment rights, citing the Supreme Court's ruling.

"The court said that the way that you've got to decide the constitutionality of modern-day gun laws ... is not by looking at modern policy considerations, but rather looking at historical laws and trying to analogize specific legal traditions from a very different time and place," Eric Ruben, an assistant professor of law at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, told The Texas Tribune last month.

"Based on the Second Amendment's text, as informed by Founding-Era history and tradition, the Court concludes that the Second Amendment protects against" prohibiting young adults from carrying handguns, Pittman wrote in his August decision.

"Throughout American history, states have prohibited the public carrying of weapons in order to ensure public safety," David Cole, the American Civil Liberties Union's legal director, said after the Supreme Court decision in June. "As mass shootings inflict incalculable misery and pain, the Supreme Court majority has radically undermined states' ability to maintain safety."

Disclosure: Southern Methodist University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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