State gets sued for withholding gun rights from those under 21


Machinist’s Mate Fireman Kitiara Hunt, from Rio Rancho, New Mexico, practices tactical team movements during security reaction force basic training aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt in the Atlantic Ocean, June 2, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrea Rumple)

A lawsuit has been filed in federal court against the state of Minnesota for withholding Second Amendment rights for those individuals under 21.

The action, Worth v. Harrington, was brought by the Second Amendment Foundation on behalf of a number of plaintiffs including the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, Firearms Policy Coalition and three private citizens in the affected age group.

Defendants are John Harrington, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, plus three county sheriffs, Mille Lac County Sheriff Don Lorge, Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen and Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry, in their individual and official capacities.

The state is accused of violating the Second and 14th Amendments.

“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 Executive Vice President Alan M. 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.”

The complaint charges, “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. At 18 years of age, law-abiding citizens in this country are considered adults for almost all purposes and certainly for the purposes of the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights. Yet the state bans such persons from carrying a handgun outside their home or automobile, even though the state allows all other law-abiding adults to obtain a permit to carry firearms in public.”

It continues, “Minnesota generally bars the carrying of handguns by ordinary citizens in public for self-defense unless they first acquire a permit to carry under Minn. Stat. § 624.714 subd. 1a.9. Plaintiffs and those similarly situated are absolutely ineligible to receive a permit to carry even though they are adult individuals over 18 years old, because they are under 21.”

“Minnesota law prohibits private citizens from carrying guns outside the home or vehicle without a permit,” Gottlieb said, “but the state does not issue permits to anyone under age 21. This is patently unfair to an entire class of citizens who have otherwise achieved ‘majority status’ to exercise these other rights and privileges, but their right to keep and bear arms is kept off-limits.

“Young adults between eighteen and twenty-one were fully protected by the Second Amendment at the time of its ratification. Hundreds of statutes from the colonial and founding eras required 18-to-20-year-olds to keep and bear arms,” he said.

The complaint notes that the individual plaintiffs have good records and want the weapons for self-defense. One of the plaintiffs often closes up a store, late at night, and is forced to walk unprotected across a dark parking lot.

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