WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court disappointed gun rights activists once again Monday, declining to review two cases involving the rights of those under 21 to own handguns.
Activists had urged the court to accept the cases, saying there has been a “massive judicial resistance” to expanding gun rights after the Supreme Court’s decision in 2008 that there is a right to gun ownership for self-defense at least within one’s home. In 2010, the court said the right applies to state and local gun control efforts, not just those at the federal level.
But since then, the court has declined to review unsuccessful efforts to challenge restrictions, such as tight controls on who may carry a firearm in public.
At issue Monday were two such challenges. One involved a Texas law that bars almost all 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds from getting a permit to carry a handgun. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the state law, which exempts people with military experience.
The other involved a federal law that prohibits licensed firearms dealers from selling handguns to people under 21. The dealers may sell rifles and shotguns to those 18 and over. The 1968 law banning handgun sales to adults under 21 was prompted by Congress’s finding that such laws were a logical effort to diminish violent crime.
It, too, was upheld by the appeals court, but over strenuous objections by conservative judges. Both petitions asking the Supreme Court to intervene were filed by the National Rifle Association.
The petitions expressed frustration that gun-control laws were still mostly intact years after the Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, which struck down the District’s ban on handguns.
“Given the number of laws enacted by the federal government, states, and localities in the years when a mistaken understanding of the Second Amendment held sway, one would have expected a major reconsideration of extant firearms laws to have occurred,” Washington lawyer Paul Clement wrote in the challenge of the federal law.
“Instead, jurisdictions have engaged in massive resistance to the clear import of those landmark decisions, and the lower federal courts, long out of the habit of taking the Second Amendment seriously, have largely facilitated the resistance.”
The cases are NRA v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and NRA v. McGraw.
The court also declined to review Lane v. Holder, in which D.C. residents challenged federal laws that restrict buying a firearm from an out-of-state dealer.