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Charlottesville Lawyer Challenges Ban on Handgun Sales to People 18-20


Two young adults from Virginia are challenging the law that prevents them from buying handguns through federally-licensed dealers. The case is now before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Natalia Marshall had not yet turned 21 when she got involved with a violent boyfriend. 

“Her mom got a protective order against him because he was abusive," Marshall's lawyer explains.  "He violated that.  He was found with guns and drugs, didn’t show up to court.” 

Attorney Elliott Harding said Marshall comes from a hunting family, is trained to use firearms and felt she needed a handgun.

“She works on a rural horse farm in the area, is alone a lot, and she wanted to go buy a new handgun for defense, and she can’t do it.”

That’s because federal law bars anyone under 21 from buying from a licensed dealer.

“These individuals are allowed to own these guns," says Harding.  "They’re allowed to get them in private transactions.”

And it’s legal for Marshall to buy a semi-automatic rifle or a shotgun, but if she wants a handgun, she’s got to buy it from a private seller.  Attorney Harding says that’s unfortunate, because private sales of used guns are not subject to criminal background checks or mental health assessments.

He made that argument before a three-judge panel and is now waiting – along with Natalia Marshall and a second plaintiff -- Tanner Hirschfeld – to see if the court agrees they have a second amendment right to buy a new handgun through a dealer.  

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief