Hirschfeld v. ATF: Defending the Federal Minimum Age Law
Update — On October 4, 2019, the district court issued a favorable decision rejecting the plaintiffs’ challenge to the federal minimum age law, siding with the position Giffords Law Center argued for at oral argument and in our amicus brief.
Case Information: Hirschfeld et al. v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives et al. (W.D. Va. amicus brief filed June 14, 2019)
At Issue: The plaintiffs in this case challenge the longstanding federal law restricting the purchase of handguns by minors under the age of 21 from federally licensed firearm dealers. The plaintiffs argue that the law violates the Second Amendment rights of 18-to-20-year-olds. Age restrictions, however, have existed throughout history, and the purchase of guns by unsupervised minors is a conduct that falls outside of the scope of the Second Amendment. Additionally, even if the law were to implicate the Second Amendment, it remains constitutional under the highest appropriate level of review, intermediate scrutiny.
Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our brief argues that based on the two-part framework established by the Fourth Circuit for Second Amendment cases, the law in question is constitutional. We first look at precedents in which restrictions on the purchase of firearms were upheld by the Fourth Circuit. Next, we consider how empirical evidence provided through social science analyses documented in our previous amicus brief supports restricting the purchase of firearms by minors under 21. That research shows that minors under 21 are disproportionately involved in violent crime and are at a higher risk of attempting suicide. Moreover, we defend the use of the two-part framework, which lets judges effectively analyze the constitutionality of laws that prevent gun violence and save lives. Finally, we argue that the plaintiff’s claim should be dismissed because the law in question is constitutional under the two-part framework.