Eleventh Circuit Upholds Restriction on Gun Purchases by 18-to-20-Year-Olds

The opinion, just handed down today, is Jones v. Bonti, written by Judge Robin Rosenbaum, and joined by District Judge Anne Conway (M.D. Fla.); Judge Charles Wilson concurred in the judgment, because he would have preferred to wait until the Florida Legislature finishes considering a bill that would lower the minimum age for gun purchases to 18, which may end up mooting the case.

I’m on the run right now, but I hope to post some excerpts later today or tomorrow. For now, the quick summary:

  1. The majority concludes that the Florida law is comparable to various bans on handgun purchases—and, in some states, on handgun possession—by under-21-year-olds in the late half of the 19th century.
  2. And the majority concludes that this history, from around the time the Fourteenth Amendment was enacted, is more significant than Framing-era history, because it is the Fourteenth Amendment that applies the Second Amendment to the states.

By way of perspective, until about 1970, the age of majority in the U.S. was generally 21, which helps explain why such restrictions coexisted with a general recognition of the right of adults (at the time, those 21 or over) to buy guns.

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