Texas 18-Year-Olds Still Can't Carry Guns, Despite the NRA's Best Efforts

It's hard to tell sometimes, but Texas does in fact have gun restrictions. Handguns, for instance, are barred from sporting events, courtrooms, polling places, racetracks and schools, particularly when gunowners are drunk. They still can't be carried out in the open or onto college campuses, despite some lawmakers' best efforts. To get a concealed handgun license, applicants have to undergo 10 hours of training, possess a modicum of sanity, and be at least 21.

It's that last part that gets Andrew Payne, Brennan Harmon and Rebekah Jennings. They, with a big assist from their allies at the NRA, teamed up in 2011 to sue the state of Texas, arguing that banning otherwise competent 18-to-20-year-old adults from carrying handguns in public is a violation of their Second Amendment rights.

Each of the plaintiffs said they want the guns for safety. Jennings, who seems to be a crack shot, wanted protection while attending art shows in downtown San Antonio. Harmon sometimes met friends on the mean streets of downtown Dallas. Payne felt vulnerable when he visited a Walmart in his hometown of Lubbock.

A federal judge rejected their argument, ruling that "the Second Amendment does not confer a right that extends beyond the home." The state of Texas, on the other hand, has every right to bar certain groups of people from carrying handguns.

The appeal filed by Payne, Harmon, Jennings, and the NRA went no better. In a decision issued Monday, a three-judge panel with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the lower court's ruling.

The panel explained that Texas' restrictions violate no one's constitutional rights. "[T]he restriction here has only a temporary effect," they write. "And, because it restricts only the ability to carry handguns in public, it does not prevent those under 21 from using guns in defense of hearth and home. Finally, it is not a complete ban on handgun use; it bans such use only outside a home or vehicle."

The judges take particular relish in describing why lawmakers would have a legitimate interest in keeping firearms out of the hands of young adults. They conclude: "[P]ersons under 21 tend to be irresponsible and emotionally immature, and can be thrill-bent and prone to criminal behavior."