A U.S. appeals court ruled Wednesday that California’s ban on the sale of guns to adults under 21 is unconstitutional. In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the measure violated the second amendment and should have been struck down by a San Diego judge.
“America would not exist without the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army,” wrote Judge Ryan Nelson, according to the Associated Press. “Today we reaffirm that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms.”
The ruling was not a complete repudiation of what Judge Nelson called ““an almost total ban on semiautomatic centerfire rifles” for young adults. The Firearms Policy Coalition, which brought the case, sought to block the state from requiring a hunting license for purchases of rifles or shotguns by adults under 21 who are not in the military or law enforcement.
The court found the license requirement to be reasonable, calling it “sensible firearm control.”
Still, the group said Wednesday’s ruling makes them optimistic for future gun rights cases nationwide.
Handgun sales to adults aged 18-20 were already prohibited, but California enacted stricter measures on rifles and shotguns to young adults in 2018. The new restrictions were introduced after a nationwide push to ban rifles in response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre in Parkland, Florida.
The gun ban was signed by former California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat.