Texas youth are going to continue having to wait until they turn 21 to get their concealed gun permits. The Fifth Circuit has rejected a claim that Texas law preventing 18 to 20-year-olds from obtaining a Texas concealed weapons permit violates their Constitutional rights.
Youth can complain to Congress if they would like. Congress’ determination of young people’s inability to handle handguns safely influenced the court’s decision. Like it or not, the court agrees that young people are irresponsible, emotionally immature, thrill-seeking, and prone to causing crimes.
If you are between the ages of 18 and 21 in Texas, you are not allowed to apply for a Texas concealed weapons permit unless you have had military training. This has been the law since 1995, when the legislature created the concealed weapon permit licensing program. Over public safety concerns, the Texas legislature determined that youth of this age group are generally not mature enough to carry and handle handguns in public.
In hopes of ridding Texas of this law, three plaintiffs within that age group, along with the National Rifle Association, brought suit claiming the Second Amendment rights were infringed upon and that they are not provided equal protection of the law.
The Second Amendment states that "[a] well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
The court first acknowledged that the right to keep and carry a weapon is not a right without limitations. The court then applied a two-step inquiry of whether 1) the Texas law falls within the scope of Second Amendment and 2) analyzed the law applying intermediate scrutiny.
The court found that the law does not fall within the scope of the Second Amendment using circuit precedent. Prior cases have found that the law does not fall within the scope by being one of a long tradition of targeting select groups' ability to access and use handguns in the interests of public safety.
The court then applied intermediate scrutiny following prior case law from D.C. based on similar statutes. The law is limiting in age and Congress had determined that this age group is not responsible enough to handle concealed weapons.
It is a small burden compared to the government interest in public safety. The law does not affect a person's choice to carry and use guns in the home or vehicle. The law applies only to handgun sales. It also applies only to 18 to 20-year-olds, and disappears once an individual turns 21. With all these considerations, the court applied intermediate scrutiny and found the Texas concealed weapon permit law to be constitutional.
The plaintiff's claim of an equal protection violation was also turned down by the court for the same reasons. The court finds that the Texas law is not irrationally related to their public safety concerns.
The NRA lost their challenge this week, but for the three individual plaintiffs, this case will be behind them as they turn 21 and surely apply for their concealed weapons permit.