Case Information: Jones v. Becerra, No. 3:19-cv-01226-L-AHG (S.D. Cal. brief filed January 3, 2020).
At Issue: Since 2011, California has prohibited minors under the age of 21 from purchasing handguns, a requirement similar to a federal law that has been in place for over 50 years. In 2018, California extended this age restriction to long guns, subject to certain exceptions for young people with valid hunting licenses, members of the Armed Forces and law enforcement, and transfers to minors from immediate family members. Plaintiffs argue that California’s age restrictions violate the Second Amendment and that limiting the ability of minors under the age of 21 to purchase firearms will have no effect on gun violence in the state.
Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our brief argues that California’s law is consistent with the Second Amendment based on extensive historical support for a minimum age of 21 for firearm access, and because the challenged measure easily satisfies intermediate scrutiny based on evidence that unsupervised minors with firearms pose a grave public safety risk. Our brief summarizes social science research about impulsivity and suicidality in minors ages 18 to 20, as well as FBI crime data showing that firearm homicides and violent crimes disproportionately involve individuals under 21. We also highlight research that has found a connection between age restrictions on firearm purchases and declines in firearm-related adolescent deaths and violence. Finally, our brief argues that the plaintiffs’ counterarguments should be given no weight since they are based on evidence from an author who has been widely discredited for flawed methodology and ethical violations in his research.