TTU Professor: Student has strong case against federal handgun ban - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/9/10

TTU Professor: Student has strong case against federal handgun ban

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By Ann Wyatt Little - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) –    A Texas Tech professor says a Lubbock teen  who filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the age to buy handguns may have a chance to win. James D'Cruz is the plaintiff in the case that was filed in a Lubbock federal court.

The right to bear arms is a target of many conversations out on the shooting range. The lawsuit claims that eighteen year olds are considered adults for almost all purposes and ‘certainly for the purposes of the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights.' The National Rifle Association is challenging the federal law that prevents people under 21 from purchasing handguns, something the association believes infringes on personal constitutional rights.

Licensed gun dealer and Rustic Range owner Dub Dillard has some concerns about the suit. "I like the law the way it is. I don't think that 18-year-olds are mature enough to handle handguns."

Papers filed in federal court say D'Cruz, the plaintiff, is well trained and was a member of JROTC's marksmanship team and has earned awards for his marksmanship.

It's that training that gun owner Don Vandiver doesn't believe everyone will have access too. "I'm not sure all 18-year-olds have maturity to handle something so inherently dangerous," said Vandiver who would like to see more training for people between the ages of 18 and 20 if the ban is overturned. 

As the law stands, people under the age of 21 can walk into a licensed store and if they pass background checks can purchase a rifle, but cannot buy a smaller handgun or the ammunition for those weapons.

Texas Tech constitutional law Professor Mark McKenzie, who used to litigate cases, believes D'Cruz has a strong case. "The problem of treating 18 to 20 year olds differently in terms of your right to bear arms is that it is a fundamental right enshrined in the bill of rights."

"We think if you are old enough to vote, old enough to serve your country and old enough to die you should be able to buy a handgun through all legal means," said Alexa Fritts, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association.

McKenzie says the Supreme Court has not defined what is too restrictive when it comes to gun laws. He says this lawsuit is just the next of many steps for gun right advocates.

"The NRA systematically is testing regulations which are okay and which go too far," said McKenzie.

KCBD NewsChannel 11 will follow continue to follow this lawsuit.

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