SAF Lawsuit Challenges Prohibition on Handgun Sales to Young Adults

The Second Amendment Foundation has filed another lawsuit on behalf of young adults, this time in West Virginia, challenging the federal prohibition on handgun sales to citizens under age 21.

U.S.A.-( Challenging state and federal gun laws on behalf of young adults in the 18-20-year age group is becoming a habit for the Second Amendment Foundation, which has filed a lawsuit in federal court in West Virginia, seeking to overturn the federal prohibition on handgun sales to young adults.

The case is known as Brown v. ATF, coming on the eve of this year’s Gun Rights Policy Conference in Dallas, Texas.

Joining SAF as plaintiffs are the West Virginia Citizens Defense League and two private citizens, Benjamin Weekley and Steven Brown, for whom the case is known. Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys John H. Bryan and Adam Kraut.

Defendants are the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, ATF Director Steven Dettelbach and Attorney General Merrick Garland, in their official capacities. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

According to a SAF news release, Weekley and Brown are in the affected age group and were unable to buy handguns from a West Virginia sporting goods store earlier this year. According to the lawsuit, “The Handgun Ban impermissibly infringes upon the right to keep and bear arms of all law-abiding, peaceable individuals aged eighteen to twenty.” The complaint further asserts the ban “is flatly unconstitutional under the Second Amendment” and Supreme Court rulings in the 2008 Heller case and this year’s Bruen decision.

This is not SAF’s first foray into the “young adult” arena. The organization, which has gained a reputation as a Second Amendment litigation powerhouse, earlier filed suit in Minnesota, challenging that state’s ban on concealed carry by young adults, alleging the ban violates the Second and 14th Amendment rights of citizens in that age group. Recently, SAF attorneys filed a motion for summary judgment in the case, which is known as Worth v. Harrington.

“We recognize the rights of law-abiding young adults to vote, join the military, sign contracts, start businesses, get married and do other things,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb, “but when it comes to exercising one of the most basic fundamental rights protected by the Constitution, suddenly we treat them like children. You shouldn’t be able to have it both ways.”

Gottlieb added there is no historical evidence supporting an arbitrary prohibition on handgun purchases by young adults over age 18 but under age 21.

“Indeed,” Gottlieb observed, “history goes the other direction, with young adults considered mature enough for militia service, duty in the armed forces and in today’s world being able to vote, run for public office, start businesses, get married, enter into contracts and enjoy the full protections set down in the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendments.”

SAF has also filed a federal lawsuit in Illinois, challenging that state’s ban on concealed carry by young adults. Joining SAF in that legal action are the Illinois State Rifle Association, Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc., and three private citizens in the 18-21-year age group, David Meyer, Eva Davis and Mitchell Nalley. SAF and ISRA teamed up with the late Otis McDonald and other Chicago residents in the landmark lawsuit against the Windy City’s handgun ban which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Illinois concealed carry case is known as Meyer v. Raoul.

In May of this year, a three-judge panel for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a California prohibition on sales of semiautomatic rifles to young adults in a case known as Jones v. Bonta.

This SAF case was remanded back to the district court for further proceedings, but then came the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which set the appeals courts on their collective ear by eliminating the “means-end scrutiny” strategy that has allowed lower courts to justify restrictive gun control measures. Henceforth, Second Amendment cases will be guided by history rather than political correctness.

SAF was joined in the Bonta case by the Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc., Firearms Policy Foundation, Calguns Foundation, Poway Weapons and Gear and PWG Range, North County Shooting Center, Inc, Beebe Family Arms and Munitions, and three private citizens including Matthew Jones for whom the case is named.

Perhaps underscoring the importance of presidential elections, the majority opinion in Bonta was written by Judge Ryan Nelson and joined by Judge Kenneth Lee, both Donald Trump appointees, and in part by Judge Sidney Stein from the Southern District of New York, a Bill Clinton appointee. Judge Stein also dissented in part.

About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

Dave Workman

Dave Workman
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Its not the 18 year olds that go into a gun store and legally buy a gun, it the 18 year old gang banger that steals a gun that is the 18 year old you have to worry about.


either way both of those 18 yr olds constitutional rights are being infringed.


The first gun I bought was in 1964 from a hardware store in Bald Knob, Arkansas. I got a single shot Remington and brick of long rifle ammo.. I was 12.


I was 8 when I bought my first had to be 16 to buy a pistol,but an 8 year old could buy an inland m2 carbine,or a shotgun odd a sub gun fit a child better than an adult. Came from fw woolworth they had a table full mixed m1,and m2,I picked the nicest condition with a clean barrel, friends father saw it and went to all three stores in driving range and bought every m2 he could find(later found out he was with alpha 66), did get a stevens 22 later that year much easier to shoot and cost… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by swmft

We keep relying on the Constitution and SCOTUS for redress of grievances while the several states (NY,NJ,MA,Ca,Hi ,Md,Il, and DC) continue to use them like Charmin. When will this stop?


when we enforce title 18 and start jailing them in mass


It will stop when we stop it. “A republic…if you can keep it.” Indeed.

President Eisenhower sent in the 101st Airborne when Arkansas defied the SCOTUS ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education. How is this any different? If the Federal Government can’t, or won’t do it, it is encumbent upon We the People, if it is to be done, though this could get messy.

When the government is breaking the law, who do you call?

(I take too long to write. :-))


Steven Dettlebach and Merrick Garland are both a couple of clowns that are part of the Biden and Harris circus act .