Monday, December 4, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Extra Hurdle Upheld|for Young Gun-Buyers

CHICAGO (CN) - The Seventh Circuit upheld an Illinois law requiring that anyone age 18 to 20 trying to buy a gun must have a parent or guardian sign the permit form.

Tempest Horsley challenged the law when the Illinois State Police returned as incomplete an application she completed for an Illinois Firearm Owners' Identification Card (FOID) upon turning 18 years old.

Along with the application, Horsley had included a check for $10 but did not provide the signature of a parent of guardian, as required for any applicant under age 21.

Under-21 applicants like Horsely can still appeal to the director of the state police if they a parent or guardian's signature is not available, but Horsley filed suit instead, claiming that the signature requirement for FOID cards violates the Second Amendment.

A federal judge in East St. Louis rejected her claim, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed Monday.

"The Constitution does not set forth an age of majority," Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote for a three-judge panel. "During the founding era, persons under 21 were considered minors or 'infants.' The age of majority was 21 until the 1970s. So most right-to-bear-arms laws were passed while 18-to-20-year-olds were minors."

Williams and her colleagues did not assess whether the Second Amendment protects firearm possession by 18-to-20-year-olds. Even if it is, the Illinois law is a modest restriction that serves a legitimate public interest, the court found.

The ruling cites a 1997 study that found 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds ranked first, second and third in the number of the gun homicides.

Though 18-to-20-year-olds make up just 4 percent of the population, they also committed 16 percent of all murder and non-negligent-manslaughter crimes in 2014.

"These crime figures reflect important benefits to the public interest in limiting firearm possession by persons in the age group that is the subject of the challenged statute," Williams said.

Furthermore, Illinois does not categorically ban 18-to-20-year-olds from possessing a firearm if they are unable to get a parent's signature, the court found.

Horsley could have appealed her case to the director of the Illinois State Police and demonstrated that she is eligible for a card despite her parent's unwillingness to support her application.

"Nor does it impose a bar on gun possession on an 18-to-20-year-old whose parents have passed away or are disqualified from owning guns," Williams wrote. "The absence of a blanket ban makes the Illinois FOID Card Act much different from the blanket ban on firearm possession present in Heller."

In the 2008 ruling District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Second Amendment includes an individual right to keep and bear arms in the home for the purpose of self-defense.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.