A federal lawsuit filed in Texas last year seeks to repeal the prohibition, as part of the Gun Control Act of 1968, on handgun purchases by 18 to 20-year-olds from licensed dealers. That lawsuit has hit a snag, with U.S. District Judge Samuel Cummings dismissing it yesterday. From the Statesman:
In a 17-page order, U.S. District Judge Samuel Cummings dismissed a challenge to a 32-year-old [actually 42] federal law barring handgun sales by licensed gun dealers to people under the age of 21.
Judge Cummings’ rationale is especially . . . interesting:
“The Court is of the opinion that the ban does not run afoul of the Second Amendment to the Constitution,” the ruling states. “The right to bear arms is enjoyed only by those not disqualified from the exercise of the Second Amendment rights.
But wait a second–“by those not disqualified from the exercise” of a Constitutional right? If the government can arbitrarily deem some citizens “unworthy” of a right, and “disqualify” them from its exercise, how can it even be a right? What distinguishes it from a mere privilege, to be granted or denied at whim? If 18-year-olds are unworthy of the right (or privilege) of self-defense, who else might be so deemed some time in the future? He continues:
It is within the purview of Congress, not the courts, to weigh the relative policy considerations and to make decisions as to the age of the customer to whom those licensed by the federal government may sell handguns and handgun ammunition.
No, your honor–it is most definitely within the purview of the courts to rein in the legislature’s unconstitutional excesses through judicial review. If you are unable or unwilling to do that, what good are you?
Of course it’s possible that Judge Cummings agrees with Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), that the three branches of government do not include a judiciary branch (see sidebar video):
So I would urge my Republican colleagues, no matter how strongly they feel — you know, we have three branches of government. We have a House. We have a Senate. We have a president.
If the court’s role in government is merely as a rubber stamp for the legislative and executive branches, Cummings is probably just fine for the job. The flip side of that, of course, is that if we the people cannot count on the courts to rein in an overzealous legislature and executive, we will have to take that on ourselves. That could get messy.
- At what age does a person’s life become worth defending?