Federal judge says Texas can’t ban 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying handguns
U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, who cited the Second Amendment in his decision, stayed the ruling pending appeal.
A federal court in Fort Worth on Thursday struck down a Texas prohibition that limited adults under 21 from carrying handguns.
Texas law bars most 18- to 20-year-olds in the state from obtaining a license to carry a handgun or carrying a handgun for self-defense outside their homes. Two plaintiffs, who fall within that age range, and the Firearms Policy Coalition Inc., filed a lawsuit against the state to challenge the statute. The suit says the Texas law prevented the plaintiffs from traveling with a handgun between Parker, Fannin and Grayson counties, where they lived, worked and went to school.
U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman wrote that the Second Amendment does not specify an age limit and protects adults under 21 years old.
“Based on the Second Amendment’s text, as informed by Founding-Era history and tradition, the Court concludes that the Second Amendment protects against this prohibition,” Pittman wrote in the ruling.
The order will not go into immediate effect. Pittman stayed the ruling for 30 days pending appeal.
The decision comes just three months after an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde in the deadliest school shooting in Texas.
The Firearms Policy Coalition filed the lawsuit in November 2021. It came months after a legislative session in which lawmakers passed a law that allows Texans to carry handguns without a license or training, despite previous promises from Republican leaders to address gun safety following the 2019 El Paso and Midland-Odessa mass shootings.
In the last 13 years, as firearms have become more accessible in the state, Texas has had eight mass shootings.
Gov. Greg Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday’s ruling.