Court Partially Blocks Enforcement of VA Private Sales Ban

Why Second Amendment Sanctuaries Are Important In Virginia & the U.S., Allexxandar-iStock-884220580
The NRA reports that a court has partially ceased some of the new unconstitutional gun laws in Virginia. iStock-884220580

U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- On July 14, a judge in Lynchburg, VA, partially blocked enforcement of the Commonwealth’s new ban on private firearm sales, ruling it effectively prohibits law-abiding adults under age 21 from acquiring handguns, in violation of Virginia’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The decision came in the case of Elhert v. Settle.

“Prior to the [challenged] Act,” the court wrote, “those between the ages of 18 and 21 could purchase a handgun through only a private sale, not from a licensed dealer.”

This is because licensed dealers (FFLs) are bound by a federal law that prohibits FFLs from transferring handguns to those under age 21. By channeling all firearms sales through FFLs, Virginia’s new law categorically bans adults age 18 to 20 from legally acquiring handguns.

While attorneys for the Commonwealth admitted this was the outcome of the law, they insisted it didn’t matter, because young adults are not protected by the right to keep and bear arms. The court rejected this claim, noting that the only age-based restrictions with any longstanding historical pedigree are those pertaining to minors. Meanwhile, the court noted, Virginia law “defines an adult as a person 18 years of age or more.”

The court also determined that completely prohibiting access to an entire class of firearms “is a prohibition, not a mere condition [of sales], infringing on the right to keep and bear arms and greatly reducing [the plaintiff’s] means of self-defense. “ It further noted that it was no answer to this infringement that other types of firearms remain available to this age group, pointing out that the U.S. Supreme Court had foreclosed this argument in the 2008 case of District of Columbia v. Heller.

The court, however, declined the plaintiffs’ request to block the entire law from implementation. In doing so, it determined that Virginia’s constitutional right to arms is equivalent to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, infringements of which are to be judged by considering the history and tradition of that provision.

Purporting to apply this test, the court pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has noted that “prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill” and “conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms” are “presumptively lawful.” From this, the Virginia court extrapolated that a background check requirement for sales does not transgress the right, so long as it “is limited to preventing a longstanding prohibition on a historically justified category.”

The court brushed aside the plaintiffs’ argument that the new law specifically targets private sales, not commercial transactions. “Even though private sales and commercial sales are different,” it stated, “the Court is at a loss as to how the historical justifications of preventing felons and the mentally disabled from possessing firearms would allow conditions on commercial sales and not also justify conditions on private sales.”

While the court’s decision provides some encouragement to Virginians now subject to a jumble of newly-enacted gun control laws, it remains to be seen whether even this incremental relief will survive further proceedings in Virginia’s appellate courts. We will report on any further developments as they occur.


National Rifle Association Institute For Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)

About NRA-ILA:

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit: www.nra.org

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uncle dudley
uncle dudley (@rockhouse)
1 year ago

The liberals in the country just can’t decide when a young person is considered an adult, they have different age brackets for different occasions to suit the liberals idea of adulthood.
There needs to be one age across the board, either eighteen years old or twenty one and quit the the BS.
If your old enough to serve in the military and risk your life for the country that should be the defining age across the board.

Bill
Bill (@bill)
1 year ago

Congratulations Virginia, you are now maryland.

GUNFUN
GUNFUN (@manwithgun)
1 year ago

I am glad that there are justices in Virginia doing their part. Let’s give them a round of applause!

Catoshy
Catoshy (@catoshy)
1 year ago
Reply to  GUNFUN

It is a partial victory, So we must keep fighting. However, as a 19 year old I am glad that there are some people out there who are willing to protect our rights. Legal adults under 21 like myself have been subject to a recent trend to restrict our rights and treat us like children, just a few months ago the minimum age for buying tobacco was raised to 21 FEDERALLY (where in the constitution did they get That power?), now I can’t get cigars.

GUNFUN
GUNFUN (@manwithgun)
1 year ago
Reply to  Catoshy

As another minor, I totally understand what you mean!

Finnky
Finnky (@finnks)
1 year ago
Reply to  Catoshy

– I cannot understand your desire for a cigar. However in only protecting each other’s rights to be the same as everyone else, we surrender all individual rights.

Gindy
Gindy (@marvin)
1 year ago
Reply to  Finnky

Ah… come on now, if the young man has an acquired taste for good cigars I’d think we could cut him some slack! After a good training session at the range a great cigar is indeed a just reward!