A US appeals court ruled Wednesday that California’s ban on the sale of semiautomatic weapons to adults under 21 is unconstitutional. The 2-1 ruling by a panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday the law violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms and a San Diego judge should have blocked what it called "an almost total ban on semiautomatic centerfire rifles" for young adults. "America would not exist without the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army," Judge Ryan Nelson wrote. "Today we reaffirm that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms."
The Firearms Policy Coalition, which brought the case, said it’s optimistic the ruling will lead to the overturn of other age-based gun bans. The ruling, however, was not a total victory for gun rights advocates, the AP reports. They also sought an injunction blocking the state from requiring a hunting license for adults under 21—who are not in the military or law enforcement—to purchase rifles or shotguns. The requirement stems from a series of mass shootings by young people in 2018.
The 9th Circuit ruled the hunting license requirement was reasonable for increasing public safety through "sensible firearm control." However, it said an outright ban on semiautomatic rifles for those under 21 went too far. "It’s one thing to say that young adults must take a course and purchase a hunting license before obtaining certain firearms," Nelson wrote. "But to say that they must become police officers or join the military … is a blanket ban." Nelson and Judge Kenneth Lee, who ruled in the majority, were part of Donald Trump's wave of conservative-approved nominees that reshaped the famously liberal court. Attorney General Rob Bonta's office said it was reviewing the decision. In a statement, a spokesperson said it was committed to "defending California's commonsense gun laws." (Read more gun rights stories.)