Eighteen: Old Enough to Own, Too Young to Buy

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Monday, February 11, 2019


There is no age restriction clause in the Constitution when it comes to most amendments, yet there are many restrictions placed on the rights of youth today. The slow degradation of a citizen’s rights happens in a myriad of ways, but the main avenue is simple: the government identifies a potential problem, tries to insufficiently fix it, and proceeds to continuously double-down on solutions until the rights become so estranged, the abdication of personal responsibility becomes a matter of convenience.

That is precisely what happened to the right for young adults to bear arms. Primarily in response to the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, Congress passed the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prohibited firearm sales of long guns to those 18 and under and handguns to those who are younger than 21 from any Federal Firearms License, or FFL, dealer. A 1994 law doubled down on the restriction, stipulating the minimum age to 18 for private sales of handguns.

Of course more legal rope and tape block access to those old enough to serve our country from critical tools of self-defense, as many private avenues of purchasing are deemed illegal. However, it is the age gap, the federal mandate that FFLs may sell handguns to 21 but not 18 year olds, that is the most irrational stipulation. Luckily, it’s being challenged.

A group of college students and recent high school graduates in Virginia are seeking to overturn the Federal age mandate. Represented by Elliot Harding, the plaintiffs Tanner Hirschfeld and Natalia Marshall argue that because of portability, simplistic training, and ease of use, firearms are the ideal self-defense weapon. Because of this, FFLs should be able to sell young adults firearms they are legally old enough to own.

This is how it should be and is an encouraging sign. When the rights of the citizen are eroded it’s up to them to regain the burden of self-responsibility. Convenience is the enemy of freedom, and, in a digital age where the rights of the individual are regularly violated, it’s an important first step.

Right now the group, Young Adults Wanting Their Right To Defend Themselves, is raising the estimated legal fees to challenge the federal law. You can donate and learn more about their mission here.

Patrick is currently a student at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and a veteran of the United States Coast Guard. When not enjoying time with his family, Pat can often be found on Twitter, rooting for the Chicago Cubs, or cooking.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Patrick Sullivan

University of Massachusetts, Lowell

Patrick is currently a student at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and a veteran of the United States Coast Guard. When not enjoying time with his family, Pat can often be found on Twitter, rooting for the Chicago Cubs, or cooking.

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