Texas law promotes right to bear arms

Sarah White

Most UT students will remain ineligible to obtain a concealed handgun license after a district court ruling last week.

United States district judge Samuel Cummings threw out a motion to overturn a Texas law that prohibits 18- to 20-year-olds from obtaining a concealed carry license on Thursday.

The National Rifle Association filed a case on May 16, 2011, claiming that the state law keeping people under the age of 21 from carrying a concealed handgun violated the U.S. constitution, wrote Cummings last week in his court opinion on the case.

“The licensing scheme does not burden the fundamental right to keep and bear arms,” Cummings wrote. “Neither does the licensing scheme target a suspect class.”

Although most college students cannot legally carry concealed firearms under the current law, a person under 21 is still eligible for a license to carry a concealed handgun if the person is a “member or veteran of the United States armed forces,” according to the Texas Government Code.

Andre Treiber, spokesman for the University Democrats, said the organization supports Cumming’s decision.

“Look back to your graduating class in high school, and think about if your peers were mature enough then to handle the responsibility that comes with a Concealed Handgun License,” Treiber said. “I certainly know that there are people from my year that I don’t think can responsibly handle guns now, let alone then.”

Treiber said he and other members of the organization have been invested in increasing safety regulation for firearm use for over a year.

“We worked closely with Students for Gun-Free Schools to lobby members of the state legislature over the guns on campus issue,” he said. “The judge’s ruling, then, follows exactly what we like — sensible regulation for a rational interest, that interest being public health and safety.”

Alice Tripp, spokeswoman for the Texas State Rifle Association, said the case was promoted by the NRA.

“It is not a lawsuit brought by us, but we support it,” Tripp said. “Given the other constitutional rights endowed to 18-year-olds — the right to vote, the right to fight in war — [the government of the state of Texas] is not being consistent.”

Tripp also said she thought this lawsuit was not especially related to Texas laws, which prohibit concealed carry on campus.

“This case deals with the discrepancy between the age of voting and the age of concealed carry, and that is what is especially disturbing in this case,” she said.

Printed on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 as: District judge chooses to keep concealed carry license age restriction