SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah is joining more than 20 other states to support the National Rifle Association's challenge to a law banning federally licensed dealers from selling handguns to people age 18 to 20.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the challenge. The brief was joined Friday by attorneys general in 21 other states.
The NRA is challenging a federal law banning handgun sales to those under 21. A federal appeals court upheld the law in October 2012, and the NRA appealed the matter to the Supreme Court.
Utah Attorney General John Swallow told the Deseret News (http://bit.ly/14WwjUk) he supports the challenge because the federal law conflicts with state laws, and he says Utah should be able to enforce its own laws when it comes to public safety issues.
"It's really a federalism issue. We feel like we should be able to enforce state policy where it comes to the safety of our citizens," Swallow said.
Utah allows 18 to 20-year-olds to buy handguns in private transactions, something that many states allow, Strange said in his brief.
"Yet Congress has sought to withdraw this liberty from the same class of people," Strange wrote.
Swallow said the federal law "is too restrictive and violates the Constitution."
The NRA brought the lawsuit on behalf of several people under 21 who wanted to purchase handguns from licensed sellers.
"Young adults, many of whom have fought and sacrificed life and limb for their country, should not be prohibited from fully exercising their fundamental Right to Keep and Bear Arms," said NRA executive director Chris Cox in a statement. "The Second Amendment should receive no less respect than our other enumerated constitutional freedoms."
In its ruling upholding the federal law last year, The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said Congress designed the law to address violent crime associated with trafficking handguns to young adults, and the law was not a violation of Second Amendment rights to bear arms or Fifth Amendment rights to equal protection.