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2 Aug, 2013 09:29

NRA targets gun sale restrictions for minors under 21

NRA targets gun sale restrictions for minors under 21

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has filed a petition to the US Supreme Court, asking it to allow licensed gun dealers to sell handguns to youths between the ages of 18 and 21.

The appeal filed by the NRA and two 19-year olds is a fresh attempt to overturn a 1968 law which bars federally licensed dealers from selling handguns and handgun ammunition to people between ages 18 and 21.

The law was challenged in court last year, where it was unanimously upheld by a three-judge panel for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

This categorical burden on the fundamental right to keep and bear arms passes constitutional muster because law-abiding young adults likely do not possess Second Amendment rights at all,” the petition reads.

The current legislation does, however, leave quite a number of options for people older than 18 and younger than 21 to obtain weapons, as they are still allowed to purchase shotguns and rifles from licensed dealers. As for handguns, they can get a hold of them as well, provided they receive them as gifts or purchase them from private owners.

The National Rifle Association first challenged the 1968 law in 2010, pointing at the discrepancy between youths being allowed to have guns but not being allowed to buy them from licensed dealers.

In 2012 the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled to uphold the law, with Judge Edward Prado justifying the restriction on minors under 21 from purchasing guns by saying that  “Congress found that they tend to be relatively immature and that denying them easy access to handguns would deter violent crime.”

The gun debate in the US became particularly acute following the Newtown massacre in December 2012, when a 20-year-old shooter killed 26 people, mostly children, at the local Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It was one of the worst mass shootings in US history, which has been increasingly marred by similar incidents over the past decade.

The Sandy Hook tragedy served to intensify the already deep divide in US society on the issue of gun control, with part of population seeing gun sales restrictions as an effective tool to prevent school shootings, while their opponents believing people need greater access to guns in order to protect themselves.

A poll conducted in March showed a steep decline in gun ownership in the US. According to the General Social Survey, 50 percent of US households possessed guns in the ‘70s, compared to 43 percent in the ‘90s and to 35 percent in the 2000s. Arms sales, however, surge every time potential restrictions on gun sales are discussed by lawmakers.