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UVA alum helps strike down a federal handgun law

A handgun at Tobey's Pawn Shop in Albemarle County. Adults under 21 may be able to purchase one.
A handgun at Tobey's Pawn Shop in Albemarle County. Adults under 21 may be able to purchase one.(wvir)
Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 8:07 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday it is unconstitutional to prevent adults under 21 from buying a handgun.

The case is titled Hirschfeld v. ATF. Tanner Hirschfeld is a University of Virginia alum and a plaintiff.

“We’ve decided with the courts that once you have reached the age of 18, your Constitutional rights vest, so I was happy that the court ended up finding that,” Hirschfeld said.

The court changed the law so that 18-to-20 year olds secure the right to purchase a handgun. The law formerly only allowed those 21 and up to purchase one, but Hirschfeld saw this as age discrimination. He just got the court to agree with him.

Hirschfeld is fighting alongside Natalia Marshall, a co-plaintiff from Albemarle County. The case started in 2019. Both both wanted to buy handguns for self defense, but were denied because were not yet 21.

“I felt that you know if it was affecting me it was affecting others around the country, and I really do think this will save lives,” Hirschfeld said.

Two years ago they lost that case in federal court. Tuesday, July 13, a federal appeals court-- in a split decision --reversed the ruling in their favor.

A three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District ruled “18-to-20-year-olds have Second Amendment rights, and the challenged laws impermissibly burden those rights.” The ruling says their rights were violated by minimum age requirements on purchases.

It is likely this case will be heard again.

“We’re hopeful and you know hopefully the Supreme Court will take this up at some point and we’ll get clarity nationwide, and we can see a step further, step in the right direction with the Second Amendment,” Hirschfeld said.

Hirschfeld hopes this will set a precedent across the country, but it is expected the government will appeal this ruling.

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