The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Wednesday that California’s ban on sales of semiautomatic weapons to those under 21 violated the second amendment and thus is unconstitutional.
According to the Jones v. Bonta decision, which reversed an earlier San Diego Circuit Judge’s decision to uphold the ban, the court noted that the second amendment protects not only the right for younger people to own and use weapons, but it also covers the ability to purchase them as well. Judge Ryan Nelson used that as the crux in his majority decision, noting specifically how the revolutionary army in the 1770’s had many young adults under the age of 21 using weapons to secure independence.
“America would not exist without the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army,” Judge Nelson said in his decision. “Today we reaffirm that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms. California has restricted the sale of most firearms to anyone under 21. The Second Amendment protects the right of young adults to keep and bear arms, which includes the right to purchase them.”
“The [San Diego] district court erred in not enjoining an almost total ban on semiautomatic centerfire rifles for young adults.”
Supporters of lifting the ban, led by the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), which led the case against Attorney General Rob Bonta and California, applauded the decision and noted that they hope that this overturning will lead to others nationwide.
“Today’s decision confirms that peaceable legal adults cannot be prohibited from acquiring firearms and exercising their rights enshrined in the Second Amendment,” FPC Vice President of Programs Adam Kraut said in a statement. “We are pleased to see progress on this important legal front and optimistic that similar results will come from our many other challenges to age-based bans filed in courts across the United States.”
"Today’s decision confirms that peaceable legal adults cannot be prohibited from acquiring firearms and exercising their rights enshrined in the Second Amendment," said FPC Vice President of Programs Adam Kraut. https://t.co/t8SNJmEBP9
— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) May 11, 2022
Others, such as Dave Simmons, a Missouri-based lawyer who is assisting on other firearms cases, noted how important the ruling is in the 2020’s.
“Courts are, more and more, ruling in favor of second amendment rights,” said Simmons to the Globe on Wednesday. “And with this case, it’s showing that even strict California isn’t invulnerable either. Plus, with a conservative majority court, one with enough members to potentially overturn cases like Roe v. Wade, firearms cases reaching the court may see some significant expansions in the coming years. California’s case is just another showing where things are going. And if the state decides to bring this one to the Supreme Court, we would definitely see just where the court sits on all of this. They may not even bother. They’re more conservative and the Supreme Court rarely takes major firearms cases. But it’s just the sign of the times.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Attorney General Bonta has yet to comment or say whether or not if he would be bringing this to the only court left who would be able to hear this: the Supreme Court.