A federal court ruled Wednesday that the state of Pennsylvania violated the Second Amendment by effectively barring 18-to-20-year-old residents from carrying firearms outside of their homes.
Three Pennsylvania residents sued Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Robert Evanchick arguing that the combined effect of the state’s law barring people under 21 from carrying a concealed firearm, and another law prohibiting residents from openly carrying a gun during a state of emergency, effectively banned them from possessing firearms outside their homes in violation of the Second Amendment. The Third Circuit Court ruled 2-1 in favor of the trio of plaintiffs, reversing a previous lower court ruling, according to a court document.
Pennsylvania had been under an uninterrupted state of emergency for nearly three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the court documents. During this period, the plaintiffs were effectively barred from carrying guns in public, which Pennsylvanians are allowed to do during ordinary times.
In its decision, the court found that individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 are entitled to constitutional rights, including those enumerated in the Second Amendment, and that the combined effect of Pennsylvania’s laws deprived the plaintiffs of their rights.
The lone dissenting judge argued that the “public in 1791 did not understand those under 21 to be part of ‘the people’ protected by the Second Amendment” and that Pennsylvania’s laws are “consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition.”
The majority addressed these concerns by pointing out that, if 18th-century standards are applied too rigidly, “the people” who are entitled to rights would only include “white, landed men.”
Jonathan Turley, a professor of law at George Washington University, called the ruling “a major win for gun rights” on Twitter.
He predicted that the case is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court, which could have implications for other states.
New Mexico, another Democrat-run state, is currently using a public health emergency to stop residents from carrying guns in public, The Associated Press reported.
The Pennsylvania State Police declined to comment on the case when reached by the Daily Caller News Foundation, saying that their attorneys are reviewing the ruling.
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