Thursday, May 26, 2022
Cognitive Aging, Maturity and Guns
Yesterday I wrote a blog post about gun use that several of my friends correctly characterized as heartfelt. Of course, legal research is merited, and I find that my view echoes what is written in a key section of a very recent opinion:
Beyond these significant safety concerns, contemporary scientific research increasingly sheds light on the relative immaturity and incomplete cognitive development of young adults. California cites to evidence that young adults are less mature than older adults, which leads them to take more risks and behave more reactively than their elders. Young adults are thus quicker to anger than older adults and more vulnerable to intense mood swings and to making instinctive, rather than considered, decisions. This cognitive immaturity makes young adults more likely to use firearms in situations of significant emotional arousal or perceived threat, or other situations that require rapid, complex information processing. Other Circuits have credited similar evidence to uphold regulations on firearms affecting 18 to 20-year-olds. NRA, 700 F.3d at 208; Horsley v. Trame, 808 F.3d. 1126, 1133 (7th Cir. 2015). The semiautomatic rifle regulation helps to “ensure that access to these weapons is restricted to mature individuals who have successfully completed safety training,” such as members of law enforcement and the military, “furthering the public safety objectives and ensuring that the Founding Era balancing of Second Amendment rights with safety concerns continues today.” Jones, 498 F. Supp. 3d at 1328.
Unfortunately, this is from the dissenting opinion in Jones v. Bonta, decided by the 9th Circuit with an opinion issued less than two weeks before the shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Sigh.
Or, as the always astute Professor Naomi Cahn observes, "The irony of the timing of such a ruling is beyond distressing."