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Published on Jun 6, 2012
Should young adults ages 18 through 20 be able to purchase a handgun? Some of you might answer no, however one Brownsville man says "Yes, of course they should!"
Even before Michael Garza turned 18 he was awarded certain legal rights.
At 17, he was finally allowed to drive and a year later he was able to vote.
But now that Michael is 20, there is still one right that has not been awarded to him.
"The ownership of a gun," says Michael.
After Michael graduated high school he moved to north Texas for college.
On his own in new surroundings, he felt he could be safer if he was armed.
"Kind of like what happened in the Luby's massacre," said Michael.
"When just some random guy showed up shooting, that way I can have it for protection because you never know what can happen."
Standing behind young adults like Michael is the National Rifle Association, which has filed two appeals.
One, against a 1968 federal law that prohibits 18-to-20-year-olds from purchasing handguns from federally licensed dealers.
And the other , the Texas' concealed-handgun license law.
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2010 over a federal law that limits firearm purchasing power for individuals between 18 and 20 years of age.
But this law only applies to handguns. Young adults can legally buy a rifle or a shotgun.
Without the ability to purchase a handgun at a licensed dealer, "their options would include going to an unregulated secondary market," said David Thompson, a Washington attorney representing the NRA.
"That could be a friend or a family member but it could also force them to go meet a stranger in a dark alley and buy a gun."
Thompson calls Texas gun laws "a little bit schizophrenic."
"The state of Texas has kind of a hodgepodge of carry laws," said Thompson.
"18, 19 and 20 year olds are permitted to carry handguns in their cars but they cannot get out of their car with their handgun."
So why does the state allow 18-to-20-year-olds to have handguns in their vehicle but prohibits them from having a concealed-handgun license.
Texas congressman Henry Cuellar explained via Skype.
"A lot of people were concerned that this would become a wild wild west," said Cuellar.
"There were restrictions because it was a very controversial piece of legislation."
Cuellar who supports the second amendment protecting an individual's right to keep and bear arms says to ensure safety adults over age 21 who meet certain other requirements such as passing a criminal background check and passing firearms training can get a license.
NRA officials and Michael Garza insist that 18-to-20-year-olds can be just as responsible as Texans over 21 in possessing a handgun.
"I don't see why we wouldn't be able to purchase it, be able to hold on to it if we are licensed or in the supervision of an adult or guardian," says Michael Garza.
The exception to the law in Texas to carry a concealed handgun under the age of 21 is if you are an active member of the military, or veteran who was discharged honorably
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