Texas college students under the age of 21 are now able to carry concealed firearms on campus following a rule change made by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) in January, which will no longer enforce a state law barring individuals between 18 – 20 from carrying firearms in public.
DPS attorneys drafted a memo advising that officers may not enforce a state law prohibiting 18-to-20-year-olds from carrying a firearm in response to a federal judge striking down the law in December.
In his decision, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman struck down the Texas law using the “historical tradition” approach upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision. Using this approach, the Court essentially said that all gun laws must be consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. The decision has already been used as the basis to strike down numerous gun control laws across the U.S.
Judge Pittman held that there is no historical tradition of an under-21 age restriction on an individual’s Second Amendment rights.
“Based on the Second Amendment’s text, as informed by Founding-Era history and tradition, the Court concludes that the Second Amendment protects against this prohibition,” Judge Pittman wrote.
Since the January DPS rule change, more than 100 newly eligible young people applied for concealed carry licenses, according to the Dallas Morning News.
It has been legal for people under 21 to carry rifles in public without a license, the paper reported. But, state law forbade adults under 21 from receiving a license to carry a handgun unless they were in the military or have an active restraining order against someone.
Attorneys for Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) brought the lawsuit that eventually made its way to Judge Pittman’s U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas and hailed the policy change as a win for constitutional rights.
“Our victory in Andrews v. McCraw restored the rights of peaceable young adults across Texas, and despite how great this headline sounds to us, a quick read reveals how much the pearl-clutching corporate press hates it,” FPC wrote on Twitter.
The Dallas Morning News reached out to multiple university systems, but only received a response from one.
Laken Avonne Rapier, chief communications officer with the University of North Texas System, said the safety of students, staff and community is their top priority.
“We will continue to monitor and adhere to the laws and rights afforded to our community, while focusing on creating a safe and welcoming learning environment for all,” Rapier said in a written statement.