Gun Rights Groups File Age Discrimination Suit Against California

'The Second Amendment is not a second-class right and adults over the age of eighteen but under twenty-one are not second-class people'

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A coalition of gun rights groups filed suit on Monday against California's ban on adults between the ages of 18 and 20 years old acquiring firearms.

The Second Amendment Foundation, Calguns Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, Firearms Policy Foundation, and three private citizens filed suit against California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) over the state's age-based gun prohibition. The suit claims California's general ban on gun ownership for adults under 21-years-old violates those Californians' Second Amendment rights. It further states the exceptions provided for those in law enforcement, military service, or who have a valid hunting license "do not apply to the vast majority of adult citizens between the ages 18 and 21."

The plaintiffs are asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to strike the law down as unconstitutional.

"We're going to court against this law because it clearly violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights of young adults," Alan M. Gottlieb, Second Amendment Foundation vice president, said in a statement. "When a citizen turns 18 years old in this country, he or she is considered a legal adult, free to exercise their rights under the Constitution, and that certainly should include the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. But this California law turns that concept on its ear, with very few exceptions, such as possessing a valid hunting license. But our individual plaintiffs do not hunt, and have no intention of pretending to be hunters, just to exercise their constitutional rights."

Brandon Combs, Firearms Policy Coalition president and Firearms Policy Foundation chairman, said California's law treats gun rights and young adults differently from other rights and other adults.

"The Second Amendment is not a second-class right and adults over the age of eighteen but under twenty-one are not second-class people," he said. "This case seeks to restore the Second Amendment human rights of legal adults who are being prevented from exercising them because of unconstitutional laws, policies, practices, customs that the State of California defendants are known to enforce."

"The Second Amendment fully applies to all non-prohibited adults, period," Gene Hoffman, Calguns Foundation chairman, said. "California cannot deny a fundamental, enumerated right to adults over the age of 18 that have no disqualifying criminal or mental health history."

The gun rights groups are asking Californians affected by the law to contact their lawyers if they want to become additional plaintiffs in the case.

Attorney General Becerra's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the suit.