NRA loses gun battle in Lubbock federal court

Published: Sep. 30, 2011 at 1:36 AM CDT|Updated: Dec. 15, 2014 at 1:22 AM CST
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - One of the most powerful forces in American politics came to Lubbock for a legal battle  - and lost.

Last year the National Rifle Association sued both the federal government and the state government in Lubbock federal court - challenging restrictions on gun sales to young persons between the ages of 18 to 20.

The NRA lawsuit highlights several young law-abiding persons in Texas who want to buy a handgun for marksmanship competition or self protection. The suit challenges statutes and regulations that ban the sale of handguns and handgun ammunition to persons under the age of twenty-one by federal firearm license holders ("FFLs").

The law does not forbid persons in that age category from receiving handguns as gifts or from purchasing them from someone who is not a federal firearm license holder.

Thursday the judge ruled that federal restrictions on gun sales to young person are in fact reasonable and constitutional.  Quoting from previous case law the judge ruled, "The Constitution permits legislators to 'draw lines on the basis of age when they have a rational basis for doing so at a class-based level."

Thursday's ruling also says, "Congress identified a legitimate state interest—public safety and passed legislation that is rationally related to addressing that issue."

Daniel Vice, Senior Attorney for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said, "Teenagers between 18 and 20 years old - they only make up about 5 percent of the population, but they're responsible for 20 percent of all murders and manslaughter."

Vice also said, "This is a common sense gun law.  It says teenagers can't buy semi-automatic pistols, for example, without parental supervision."

"We were disappointed," said, David Thompson, an attorney for one of the young people involved the lawsuit.  "If an individual has the right to possess a firearm then surely they have the right to buy that firearm."

Thompson says young adults cannot purchase firearms from a licensed dealer but can buy from some shady guy in a dark alley.  "It makes no sense," he said. "The selection is far inferior.  The quality of the firearms is often far inferior."

Thompson expects Thursday's ruling to be taken up on appeal.

Meanwhile, the NRA also sued the State of Texas, and as of Friday afternoon that legal battle continues in the Lubbock federal court.

Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11