A judge has struck down a Texas concealed carry ban in a case representing the first test of a landmark Supreme Court gun rights decision handed down in June.
While Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law last year that allowed anyone in the state over age 21 to carry a handgun without a permit (constitutional carry/permitless carry), adults ages 18 to 20 were still banned by state law from legally carrying in public. US District Judge Mark Pittman recently overturned the ban due to a suit filed by the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) last year challenging that law. Pittman’s recent ruling in the Andrews v. McCraw case said the ban violates the Second Amendment.
The judge based his ruling on a portion of the landmark NYSRPA v. Bruen decision that created a new legal test gun control laws must pass to be deemed constitutional. Pittman decided the Texas carry ban didn’t measure up to the new criteria.
“This decision is a significant victory for the rights of young adults in Texas and demonstrates for the rest of the nation that similar bans cannot withstand constitutional challenges grounded in history,” said Cody Wisniewski, FPC senior attorney.
Two unidentified plaintiffs and the FPC filed the suit in November 2021.
“The judgment in Andrews is likely the first final judgment on the merits in favor of Second Amendment rights since the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen this June,” the FPC wrote on its website.
The Bruen decision primarily overturned the “justifiable need” or “proper cause” requirement in some states for concealed carry permits and clarified that the Second Amendment grants citizens the right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.
The decision further established that federal judiciaries must apply a “history-only” standard when creating or reviewing firearms laws. Gun laws can only be considered constitutional if they conform to legislation in place in the 18th century when the Second Amendment was codified. That’s the test Pittman applied to the Texas carry ban.
“To start, the Second Amendment does not mention any sort of age restriction,” Pittman wrote in his decision. “This absence is notable — when the Framers meant to impose age restrictions, they did so expressly.”
“Based on the Second Amendment’s text, as informed by Founding-Era history and tradition, the Court concludes that the Second Amendment protects against this prohibition.” Pittman wrote. “Texas’s statutory scheme must therefore be enjoined to the extent that law-abiding 18-to-20-year-olds are prohibited from applying for a license to carry a handgun.”
The judge also said that “the undisputed historical evidence establishes that 18-to-20-year-olds were understood to be part of the militia in the founding era.”
Adult Texans under 21 cannot legally carry just yet, and the fight may not be over — the judge suspended his ruling for 30 days to allow for appeals to be filed.
“Though Plaintiffs’ interest in the vindication of their Constitutional rights suffers while the judgment is stayed, the stay is necessary to militate the possible negative effects of relying on the injunction while it is subject to appellate review and possible reversal,” Pittman wrote.
The FPC, therefore, recommends that “young adults in Texas under age 21 should not carry handguns in public under this decision until the injunction takes effect. FPC will continue to provide updates on this case at FPCLaw.org and on social media.”