The S.C. Supreme Court said Monday that 18- to 20-year-olds should legally be able to own handguns, and that a state ban on handguns for those under 21 is unconstitutional. Legislators already passed a law, which Gov. Mark Sanford signed in April, that would allow 18- to 20-year-old state residents to own handguns. The Post and Courier reports:
Monday's decision covered the York County case of Berry Scott Bolin, who was 19 when he was indicted for murder, assault and battery with intent to kill, possession of a firearm during commission of a violent offense, assault with intent to kill, discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle, and illegal possession of a pistol by a person under 21.
In Monday's decision, the justices upheld a lower court ruling in Bolin's favor by using the state's constitutional ban on alcohol sales as a comparison.
"By expressly allowing the regulation of the sale of alcoholic beverages to the 18- to 20-year-old age group, and not stating any other situation in which the General Assembly may restrict the rights of this age group, the state constitution precludes the General Assembly from prohibiting this age group's possession of handguns," the ruling said.
The ruling doesn't apply to rifles or shotguns, however, because South Carolina doesn't have a minimum age requirement for owning those. But how does all of this compare with other states? The Post and Courier writes:
South Carolina is one of 18 states, and the only one in the South, that had set 21 as the age for handgun ownership, according to published reports quoting the National Rifle Association. Wyoming has no handgun age requirement; in Montana, it's set at 14; in Vermont, 16, according to the NRA.