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Hirschfeld v. ATF: Fighting for the Federal Handgun Minimum Age Law

Case Information: Hirschfeld et al. v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives et al. ( 4th Cir. amicus brief filed Feb. 19, 2020)

At Issue: The plaintiffs in this case brought a challenge to the longstanding federal law restricting the purchase of handguns by minors under the age of 21 from federally licensed firearm dealers. The plaintiffs argued that the law violates the Second Amendment rights of 18-to-20-year-olds. However, age restrictions on firearm access have existed throughout history, and there is also strong social science evidence supporting restriction on the purchase of guns by unsupervised minors. Based on this historical and empirical evidence, the district court rejected plaintiff’s challenge and granted the government’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The plaintiffs then appealed their case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our Fourth Circuit brief argues that, based on the applicable two-part framework established by the Circuit for Second Amendment cases, the law in question is constitutional. The minimum age law at issue regulates conduct — ownership of firearms by unsupervised minors — that falls outside of the scope of the Second Amendment. Additionally, our brief argues that even if the law were to implicate the Second Amendment, it remains constitutional under the highest appropriate level of review, intermediate scrutiny, based on evidence showing that minors under 21 are disproportionately involved in violent crime and are at a higher risk of attempting suicide.

 Read the full text of our amicus brief here.