A federal appeals court ruled in a 2-1 decision on Wednesday that a California law banning sales of semiautomatic firearms to those under 21 is unconstitutional because it infringes on the rights of 18 to 21-year-olds.

“America would not exist without the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army,” Judge Ryan Nelson wrote. “Today we reaffirm that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms.”

The ban had been in place since July 1, 2021.

The Firearms Policy Coalition, a gun-rights group that brought the case, said the ruling gave them a reason for optimism.


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“Today’s decision confirms that peaceable legal adults cannot be prohibited from acquiring firearms and exercising their rights enshrined in the Second Amendment,” the group’s vice president of programs Adam Kraut said in a statement.

Gun rights advocates had hoped to also ensure that adults under 21 who are not in the military or law enforcement would be able to purchase handguns without obtaining a hunting license, but were unable to do that. The court kept the provision, calling it “sensible firearm control.”

State Attorney General Rob Bonta said that his office will be reviewing the decision to ensure the safety of California citizens and reduce gun violence.

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