On Monday a United States District Court judge in Tennessee issued a directive in the case Beeler v Long. The plaintiffs, Blake Beeler, Logan Ogle, and the Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc. challenged TN laws pertaining to possession or carrying firearms. Beeler specifically said laws restricting 18-20-year-old adults from possessing firearms, or prohibiting them from obtaining a handgun permit, based solely on their age, violated the Second and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The parties involved, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Jeff Long and the plaintiffs reached an agreement, and the judge issued an order. You can read the entire order here.
The Plaintiffs Argument—
Elected officials seem to forget the very constitution they are bound to. I’m quite sure they aren’t reading this article, but I’ll include the text of both the Second and Fourteenth Amendments anyhow.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Obviously the Second Amendment right to bear arms is well known to gun owners. Not only did Supreme Court Cases like DC. v Heller and most recently NYSRPA v Bruen affirm that the individual’s right to own a firearm is not attached to military service, or solely for hunting like some desire, but that owning a firearm inside and outside the home is a right intertwined with self defense.
Plaintiffs argue that the state violates the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment by applying a law that negates their Second Amendment right, based solely on age. The Judge addresses this in his ruling:
Plaintiffs argued that, on account of their age alone, the Challenged Scheme made them categorically ineligible for an enhanced handgun carry permit under Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1351 or concealed handgun carry permit under Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1366, categorically ineligible for any permitless carry under Tenn. Code Ann § 39-17-1307, and otherwise generally barred them from exercising the full scope of public carry rights they would otherwise be entitled to exercise. — KATHERINE A. CRYTZER United States District Judge. (Emphasis added)
There are ten points in the issued order. In summary, the main takeaways are:
- Defendant and his officers, agents, employees, and all others acting under his direction and control, are permanently enjoined from implementing or enforcing the Challenged Scheme to prevent individuals aged 18 years old to 20 years old from carrying handguns or obtaining permits to carry handguns on the basis of age alone.
- Defendant, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, shall provide a copy of this Agreed Order to the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association, and the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police.
- Defendant shall implement any and all procedures necessary to accept and review enhanced handgun carry permit applications under Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1351 and concealed handgun carry permit applications under Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1366 submitted by individuals aged 18 years old to 20 years old and shall not deny issuance of such a permit on the basis of age alone.
- Defendant, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, shall, no later than 90 days from the date of this Order, begin processing enhanced handgun carry permit applications under Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1351 and concealed handgun carry permit applications under Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1366 received from to individuals aged 18 years old to 20 years old who otherwise qualify for such a permit.
Last month we saw a similar case in Texas. That case resolved when the State of Texas dropped its appeal of a court decision that invalidated the state law, which prohibited adults aged 18-20 from carrying a handgun. I hope we see more cases like this that affirm that law abiding 18-20-year-olds have Second Amendment rights.
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