Three young adults in Minnesota are fighting for recognition of their full rights as adult citizens of the United States by filing a lawsuit against Minnesota challenging its requirement that a person must be at least 21 years old to obtain a handgun permit.
Under current Minnesota state law, carrying a handgun in public for the purpose of self-defense is illegal without a permit. And though 20-year-olds are considered old enough to vote, serve on a jury, hold public office, get married, and fight in the armed forces, Minnesota doesn't consider them old enough to be issued a handgun permit.
On June 7, Kristin Worth, 18, Austin Dye, 19, and Axel Anderson, 18, of Minnesota filed a lawsuit challenging this requirement. They're joined by the Firearms Policy Coalition, the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, and the Second Amendment Foundation.
"This is an action to uphold Plaintiffs' right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution," their complaint states. It cites District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to own and carry firearms, and McDonald v. City of Chicago, in which the court held that the right to bear arms is "among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty" and applies to laws passed by the states.
The plaintiffs argue that the Second Amendment applies to all adults, including those between the ages of 18 and 21, "who are considered adults for almost all purposes and certainly for the purposes of the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights." These young adults are also entitled to exercise their First Amendment rights, the plaintiffs argue.
By requiring people to be at least 21 years old to obtain a handgun permit, "the State of Minnesota prohibits a certain class of law-abiding, responsible citizens—namely, adults who have reached the age of 18 but are not yet 21—from fully exercising the right to keep and bear arms," the complaint states.
It goes on to include testimonies about why each of the three young Minnesotans challenging the law desire to carry a handgun for self-defense, and—in a seeming touch of whimsy—exactly which gun they would carry if they got a permit.
Kristin Worth is from Mille Lacs, Minnesota. She works part-time as a manager and cashier of a grocery store and, as part of her job, often has to close up the store late at night and walk alone through the parking lot to her car. "Based on this general vulnerability and the prevalence of street crime, including sex offenses, in her immediate neighborhood of Milaca, Plaintiff Worth desires to carry a handgun for self–defense," the complaint says. It notes that if Worth could legally carry, she would carry a Beretta 92x handgun.
The lawsuit is one of four recent lawsuits that the Firearms Policy Coalition has been involved with that challenge bans on adults under 21 carrying handguns. The other lawsuits were filed in Illinois, Georgia, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. If one of these legal challenges succeeds, it might set a precedent that would overturn similar policies in states across the country.
These challenges could also help bring recognition to the rising legal infantilization of young adults which has followed their cultural infantilization, with the legal minimum age for drinking, smoking, and other activities now raised to age 21.