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Kristin Worth v. John Harrington: Supporting Minnesota’s minimum age

Case Information: Kristin Worth, et al. v. John Harrington, et al., No. 0:21-cv-01348-KMM-LIB (United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, filed August 4, 2022)

At Issue: This case involves a challenge to Minnesota’s law establishing a minimum age of 21 for handgun public carry licenses. The law’s challenger’s claim that this common sense restriction on young people carrying guns in public law violates their Second Amendment rights. The court is hearing the parties’ arguments on a motion for summary judgment, and ask the court to rule on the constitutionality of law. 

Our Brief: In our first amicus brief since the Supreme Court’sBruen decision, we argue that Minnesota’s law survives constitutional scrutiny, despite the shifts in law brought about by Bruen. We jointly filed this brief with Protect Minnesota, the only independent, state-based gun violence prevention nonprofit in Minnesota.  

We argue that Minnesota’s minimum-age public carry restriction does not infringe upon the Second Amendment. Heller stated—and Bruen confirmed—that the Second Amendment is not limitless, and allows for a wide variety of firearms regulations.  The country’s history and tradition of regulating firearms is robust; even as far back as the nation’s founding, we have understood the importance of restricting firearm access for certain groups of people.

Even under the new test imposed by the Supreme Court in Bruen, which requires an analogizing to history  to assess the constitutionality of regulations implicating the “plain text” of the Second Amendment, Minnesota’s minimum age law survives. When considering a regulation that implicates the Second Amendment’s text, courts must look to “how” and “why” the regulation affects the right, and anologize the “how” and “why” of historical firearms regulations. Historical regulations restricting firearm access by high-risk groups share the same “how” and “why” as this measure. Looking at the way social science demonstrates the efficacy of restricting young people from publicly carrying firearms shows how this regulation is analogous to historical regulations that protected the public from individuals who pose a danger with firearms.

Minnesota’s law is a reasonable response to a public safety concern. Neuroscience and social science demonstrate that young people have not fully developed their decision making processes and understanding of long term consequences. Our brief outlines several examples of mass shootings in which the shooter was under the age of 21; most of these shooters obtained their guns legally. This brief also shows that minimum age laws have proven to be effective solutions that address higher rates of gun homicides and suicides among our nation’s youth. For these reasons, we argue that the court should uphold Minnesota’s minimum age law.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.