Lara v. Evanchick: Defending Pennsylvania’s Emergency Firearm Regulations
Case Information: Lara v. Evanchick, No. 2:20-cv-01582 (W.D. Pa. brief filed January 12, 2021)
At Issue: This case involves a challenge to Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act. The challenged policy limits the ability of people without concealed carry licenses to transport firearms during a state of emergency. Plaintiffs in this case allege that this restriction is unconstitutional because it limits the ability of 18-to-20-year-olds to transport firearms in the state, because they are ineligible for concealed carry permits, and because Pennsylvania has been in a state of emergency since 2018 due to the opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our Brief: We joined CeaseFirePA in a brief that argues that this policy is constitutional because both minimum age laws and restrictions on the public carry of firearms are constitutional. First, we argue that the Court should uphold the challenged policy at the first step of the two-step Second Amendment inquiry because history and tradition show that state and federal governments have imposed restrictions on the ability of 18-to-20-year-olds to access firearms since the founding of this nation, and have historically regulated the transport and public carry of firearms outside the home. We then argue that if the Court chooses to proceed to the second step of the inquiry, at most, intermediate scrutiny applies. We then show that the challenged laws reasonably fit the government’s interest in promoting public safety and survive intermediate scrutiny. In support of this argument, we cite research that finds that 18-to-20-year-olds are more impulsive and at a higher risk of committing firearm violence than older age groups and research that finds that strong public carry laws reduce homicide and other violent crime. We also cite research that has found a link between the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in firearm violence, noting that it is especially urgent for the state to reduce gun violence because the pandemic has resulted in a shortage of medical resources, particularly ICU beds which are needed both for COVID-19 patients and gunshot victims.
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