Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kansas attorney general joins NRA, 21 other states in challenge of federal handgun restriction

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

KANSAS CITY, KAN. — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has joined 21 other states in a legal brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a challenge by the National Rifle Association against a federal law that restricts the sale of handguns to people between 18 and 20 years old.

"Under current Kansas law, 18- to 20-year-olds may lawfully purchase and possess handguns," said Don Brown, a spokesman for Schmidt.

"There is no rational basis for federal law to prohibit a person of that age, who can lawfully buy a handgun at a garage sale, from purchasing one from a federally licensed firearms dealer where the sale would be subject to a background check," he said.

In dispute is a federal law that bans licensed gun dealers from selling handguns to people under 21.

The law was upheld in 2012 by the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which said Congress was within its authority to limit gun sales to a specific group.

"Congress found that persons under 21 tend to be relatively irresponsible and can be prone to violent crime, especially when they have easy access to handguns," the court said. The court cited statistics that said of gun homicides, where an offender was identified, 24 percent were committed by 18- to 20-year-olds.

The NRA has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and has been joined by 22 states.

The legal brief on behalf of the states, written by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, says, "adults who are 18, 19, and 20 honorably defend our country when it is at war. These same Americans should be able to defend themselves and their families when they are at home. Yet Congress has chosen to preclude the States from fostering their citizens’ freedom in this way."