Young adults who live in Texas are now eligible to obtain concealed carry licenses that will allow them to bear arms in certain businesses and at public universities.
In January, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) stopped enforcing a law barring 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds from carrying handguns.
The change was prompted by a federal district court case that struck down the law as unconstitutional.
The legal battle over the law began in November 2021 when the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), a pro-gun organization, filed suit, following the passage of constitutional carry in Texas.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of two plaintiffs who were adults under the age of 21 and, therefore, were prohibited from bearing arms under Texas Penal Code 46.02.
U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman issued his ruling in the case, finding that the age limits in the statute were in violation of the 2nd Amendment.
“[The statute] prohibits law-abiding 18-to-20-year-olds from carrying handguns for self-defense outside the home based solely on their age, this statutory scheme violates the Second Amendment, as incorporated against the States via the Fourteenth Amendment,” Pittman wrote in his decision.
“We applaud Texas for doing the right thing and accepting the district court’s ruling against its law prohibiting 18-to-20-year-old adults from carrying firearms in public,” said FPC attorney Cody J. Wisniewski in a statement on the FBC website.
“Not only do young adults have the same constitutionally protected right to bear arms as all other adults, they are also among the reasons we have a Second Amendment, Constitution, and Country in the first place,” he added.
Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw initially filed a notice of appeal following the late August decision. However, the agency withdrew its appeal without explanation last December.
A DPS memo sent out in January cited the case, and advised officers that they may no longer enforce the law, adding, “This directive has immediate and permanent effect unless countermanded by the Office of General Counsel through your chain of command.”
Following the DPS memo, the agency’s handgun licensing website now states, “A federal district court has ruled the Department can no longer apply the License to Carry statutory eligibility criteria that prohibit otherwise eligible 18-to-20 year-olds from obtaining the license. Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc. et. al., v. Steven McCraw, et. al., No. 4:21-cv-1245-P. The Department will therefore no longer deny applications solely on the basis that the applicants are 18-to-20 years old.”
Indeed, DPS has already begun issuing handgun licenses to the formerly-affected population, and gun rights proponents believe it is just the beginning.
According to the Dallas Morning News, since the decision to abandon the appeal, and the issuance of the memo, the department said it has received more than 100 applications from newly eligible adults and issued 17 licenses as of the end of February.
“As more people find out, there’s going to be an influx,” said Michael Cargill, who owns a gun store in Austin. Earlier this month, he said two 19-year-old college students sat before him in his handgun licensing class, pens in hand, ready to get their licenses to carry.
Cargill is noted as being the primary plaintiff in the lawsuit against the Department of Justice that saw the federal bump stock ban get overturned.
As gun control laws are scaled back in the post-Bruen legal landscape, additional lawsuits brought by the FPC in a wide swathe of jurisdictions that prohibit adults under 21 from bearing arms are sure to follow Andrew v McCraw’s victory in the 5th Circuit.
Of course, as litigation advances in such cases as Lara v. Evanchick (vs. Pennsylvania, in the 3rd Circuit), Reese v. ATF (vs. the federal government, in the 5th Circuit), Beeler v. Long (vs. Tennessee, in the 6th Circuit), Meyer v. Raoul (vs. Illinois, in the 7th Circuit), Worth v. Harrington (vs. Minnesota, in the 8th Circuit), Jones v. Bonta (vs. California, in the 9th Circuit), and Baughcum v. Jackson (vs. Georgia, in the 11th Circuit), stay tuned for updates!