The newest Democrat gun control idea is to raise the minimum age for rifle purchases, with Beto O’Rourke arguing in the recent debate between the two gubernatorial contenders that the minimum age for rifle purchases should be increased from 18 to 21.
Governor Abbott, pushing back on the idea and explaining why on practical grounds, noted that other states had tried to do just that and their attempts had been ruled “unconstitutional.” In his words:
“We want to end school shootings, but we cannot do that by making false promises. It’s a false promise to suggest that we can pass a law that will be upheld by the constitution to raise the age, and here’s why: The most recent federal court of appeals decision on this particular issue said that it was unconstitutional for a state to raise the age from 18 to 21 for a person to buy an AR-15. So any attempt to raise the age is going to be overturned.”
The debate moderator then pressed Governor Abbott on what many pro-gun Americans who heard that were thinking, asking whether he is against the Beto idea of raising the minimum age because he’s against it as an idea or because he thinks it’s unconstitutional, asking:
“Are you against this proposal because you feel like it’s unconstitutional or you believe that it’s unnecessary?”
Abbott responded in a somewhat unsatisfying fashion, saying that it was from a “purely legal position” that he was against it. In his words:
“Purely from a legal position, based upon what that court of appeals decision ruled, and, importantly, based upon what the Supreme Court decision said in a June opinion, that changed the way that that Parkland case was determined.”
You can watch their debate here:
The Court of Appeals case to which Governor Abbott referred was Jones v. Bonta. It was decided in May of 2022. There, a three judge panel found that the California law banning the purchase of young adults aged 18-20 buying AR-15s, with the panel finding:
(T)he Second Amendment protects the right of young adults to keep and bear arms, which includes the right to purchase them. The district court reasoned otherwise and held that the laws did not burden Second Amendment rights at all: that was legal error…(T)he district court erred by applying intermediate scrutiny, rather than strict scrutiny, to the semiautomatic centerfire rifle ban. And even under intermediate scrutiny, this ban likely violates the Second Amendment because it fails the ‘reasonable fit’ test.
The Second Amendment Foundation’s Executive VP, commenting on the case’s outcome, said that:
“We are delighted with the opinion. … The court majority rightly recognized that delaying the exercise of a right until age 21 does irreparable harm. It also applied strict scrutiny to the semi-auto ban.”
Many of those on the right would have been more pleased with Abbott’s answer had he made the same point in his answer rather than sticking purely to a legal point.