Tennessee was accused of violating the Second Amendment rights of some residents in a federal lawsuit filed on Thursday.
The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) said in its complaint the state’s ban on gun carry by adults under 21 years of age violates their residents’ gun rights. The group said that age group is not eligible to apply for a gun-carry permit and has no legal way to carry a handgun for self-defense.
“Tennessee’s statutory scheme unconstitutionally denies a large number of adults their fundamental, individual right to bear arms outside the home,” Adam Kraut, FPC’s senior director of legal operations, said in a statement.
The group said the state’s permitless gun carry law, which Governor Bill Lee (R.) signed earlier this month, does not apply to 18-to-20-year-olds. FPC is asking the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee to strike down the state’s law. The Tennessee case is the third one filed by FPC in the past few months. They have challenged similar laws in California and Pennsylvania.
The lawsuits are part of a broader effort by gun-rights activists to establish Second Amendment protections that extend beyond the home. While the landmark Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller established that the Second Amendment protects the ability to keep a gun in the home for self-defense, the High Court has yet to weigh in on what else the amendment protects. Gun-rights groups have flooded the lower federal courts with cases since the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in hopes of bringing the Court to revisit the issue. If those groups succeed, it could change how gun laws are evaluated across the country, likely leading to many of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws being struck down.
FPC said that’s exactly what it wants to see happen because it believes many restrictive gun laws, including Tennessee’s ban on gun carry by adults under 21, are inconsistent with the Second Amendment.
“The text of the Second Amendment makes clear that the right to keep and bear arms ‘shall not be infringed,’ and nothing in America’s history and tradition supports Tennessee’s laws banning carry by adults under age 21,” Kraut said. “This lawsuit seeks to vindicate the rights of our clients and restore individual liberty in Tennessee and beyond.”
Governor Lee’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.