Texas’ statutory scheme violates the Second Amendment to the extent that it prohibits law-abiding 18-to-20-year-olds from carrying handguns for self-defense outside the home



United States

In Andrews et al v. McCraw et al, No. 4:2021cv01245 (N.D. Tex. 2022), two individuals between the ages of 18 and 20, and the Firearms Policy Coalition Inc., on behalf of its 18-to-20-year-old members, challenged the constitutionality of the Texas statutory scheme, which generally prohibits 18-to-20-year-olds from being licensed to carry a handgun, and thus prohibits them from carrying handguns outside the home for self-defense. 

Bruen standard 

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas explained that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual's right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside of the home. The United States Supreme Court in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association., Inc. v. Bruen, 20-843 (U.S. June  23, 2022) set out an analytical framework for courts to apply to determine whether modern firearms regulations are Constitutional. Under this framework, if the plain text of the Second Amendment covers an individual’s conduct, it is presumed to be protected by the Constitution, and it is the government’s burden to justify its regulation by demonstrating that it is consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. 

The text of the Second Amendment includes 18-to-20-year-olds in the phrase “the people”

Accordingly, the Court first assessed whether Texas’ regulation was consistent with the Second Amendment’s text. The Court considered whether 18-to-20-year-olds are a part of “the people” mentioned in the Second Amendment. There is no age restriction mentioned in the Second Amendment and the term “the people” has been held to refer to all members of the political community, not an unspecified subset. Furthermore, the First and Fourth Amendments, which also refer to “the people,” have not been interpreted to exclude 18-to-20-year-olds. Thus, the Court concluded that 18-to-20-year-olds are a part of “the people” referenced in the Second Amendment. 

The Court found that this conclusion was consistent with the rest of the Second Amendment’s text. The Court reasoned that while the Second Amendment is not limited to only those in the militia, it must protect at least the pool of individuals from whom a militia would be drawn. Historically, the militia was comprised of “all able-bodied men,” which included 18-to-20-year-olds. 

Therefore, the Court concluded that the Second Amendment protected the right of 18-to-20-year-olds to keep and bear arms.

Texas failed to prove that its firearm regulation was part of the nation’s historical tradition of limitations on the right to keep and bear arms

Texas argued that its statutory scheme was part of the historical tradition on the right to keep and bear arms, relying on National Rifle Association, et al v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, et al, No. 11-10959 (5th Cir. 2012) (“NRA”). NRA set out four types of historical evidence: Founding-era gun safety regulations; laws targeting particular groups for public safety reasons; the age of majority at the time of the Founding; and, state laws restricting the ability of persons under 21 to purchase or use particular firearms. The Court found that this evidence was not enough to support Texas’ prohibition. 

First, the Court found that the Founding-era regulations were not analogous to Texas’ prohibition. Next, the laws that targeted specific groups for safety reasons involved individualized determinations regarding a person’s threat to public safety and therefore did not support a general prohibition based on age. The Court also rejected arguments based on the age of majority being 21 during the Founding-era. The Court explained that constitutional rights were not generally tied to the age of majority and again noted that 18-year-olds were included in the militia. Lastly, the Court found that all of the state restrictions cited by Texas were from the end of the 19th century and could not sufficiently establish that a general prohibition on the right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense was consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.


The Court enjoined the Texas laws to the extent they prohibit law-abiding 18-to-20-year-olds from applying for a license to carry a handgun, but stayed the injunction for 30 days pending appeal.

September 23, 2022
Andrews et al v. McCraw et al, No. 4:2021cv01245 (N.D. Tex. 2022)
Author: Grace Baehren
Federal Courts