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CA’s Age-Based Discrimination Banning Semi-Auto Rifle Sales to Adults Under 21 Was Unconstitutional


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

As to the semiautomatic rifle ban, we part company with the district court. Strict scrutiny applies. The main difference between this ban and the long gun regulation is the exceptions. The long gun regulation has a readily available exception, at least on its face—young adults can get hunting licenses.

The semiautomatic rifle ban has no such exception: the only young adults who can buy semiautomatic rifles are some law enforcement officers and active-duty military servicemembers.

It’s one thing to say that young adults must take a course and purchase a hunting license before obtaining certain firearms. But to say that they must become police officers or join the military? For most young adults, that is no exception at all. In effect, this isn’t an exception that young adults can avail themselves of by joining the police force or military; it is a blanket ban for everyone except police officers and servicemembers.

— Majority opinion striking down California’s ban on semi-automatic gun sales to adults under 21 years of age in Jones v. Bonta

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