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Generally speaking in the United States, one must be at least 18 years old to buy a long gun or ammunition for such long gun, or to buy a hand gun or ammunition for such hand gun.

That is, unless state or local laws say there are required ages in excess of 18. For example, could California say one must be 22 to buy a hand gun? Indeed they could; federal firearm dealers are bound to specific age rules: 18 for a long gun and 21 for a hand gun.

The applicable law in this regard is Federal Law 27 CFR 478.99 Certain prohibited sales or deliveries (https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/27/478.99). Therefore, auctioneers selling firearms must pay attention to both federal and state/local laws in this regard.

Further, could a gun dealer (Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, Fred Meyer, L.L. Bean or you as an auctioneer/FFL) only sell (restrict) any firearm to someone who’s 21? 22? Again, yes you/they can.

Our question today is — could a state, local political subdivision or Dick’s Sporting Goods make the minimum age to buy a firearm 23 … 24 … 34 … even 64? We would offer the state or local government could probably not as our current laws are interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States. It remains if a private company would be bound to sell a gun largely compliant with federal law — as they hold a federal license.

The Second Amendment as currently adjudicated by the Supreme Court of the United States (DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA v. HELLER (No. 07-290) 478 F. 3d 370) [Heller] says that the public has an individual right to own a firearm subject to reasonable government restriction.

So … does someone 21 years or older in the United States have a valid claim if denied the purchase of a firearm based upon their age? Basically, their claim of denial of their “Second Amendment” rights is enhanced as their age increases over 21. Said another way, laws seen in conflict with the Second Amendment cannot create an undue burden on the individual.

If you are interested in more detail on the concept of an “undue burden” and the standard of review in cases such as Heller (McDonald,) here is some expert commentary written by UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh: http://www.scotusblog.com/2010/06/mcdonald-v-city-of-chicago-and-the-standard-of-review-for-gun-control-laws/

It would appear for auctioneers that 2018 may be the most interesting time to watch the firearms laws in the United States since Heller; we’ll endeavor to keep you updated here as well.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Texas Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.