Letter Raises Question on Gun Rights for 20-Year-Old Veterans

I read a letter to the editor in the Spokesman-Review today that was pretty interesting.   Kayela Robertson of the Spokane Valley made the point that her twenty-year-old husband cannot legally carry a handgun in this state despite the fact that he has served in the U.S. Army.  See letter.   Kayela writes: “At 18 years old, he signed away his life to the Army, yet, due to his age, he can’t legally…carry around a pistol for protection.”  Generally speaking, under RCW 9.41.240, a person under 21 can only carry a pistol if they are in their own home, on their own property, or at their own place of business.Pistol The legislature enacted this law in 1994, and at the time their reasoning was as follows: “The legislature finds that the increasing violence in our society causes great concern for the immediate health and safety of our citizens and our social institutions. Youth violence is increasing at an alarming rate and young people between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four are at the highest risk of being perpetrators and victims of violence. Additionally, random violence, including homicide and the use of firearms, has dramatically increased over the last decade.

The idea of younger people with firearms is always an interesting question in court.  In rural areas, firearm possession and use is looked at as part of growing up.  In more urban areas, a young person or a teenager with a firearm is looked at suspiciously, as if the youth in question might have motives related to gang membership.  I have written in the past about possession of weapons by youth in the past.  (See post).   Our society seems to be of two minds when it comes to youth and firearms.  As an attorney who has defended younger people caught with handguns, I never know how the judge or jury will react.  A lot of the perception comes from how a person is raised to look at firearms.

What do people think about Kayela’s point?  I saw that her letter was online, but did not see any comments posted on the Spokesman-Review’s site.  In Idaho, it appears that 18-year-olds can possess handguns.  Should our laws be changed?  Should an exception be made for veterans that are 19 or 2O years old?  Many veterans face adjustment issues when they return to the civilian world?  Is that a fair consideration?

One Response to “Letter Raises Question on Gun Rights for 20-Year-Old Veterans”

  • Wendy:

    You know, I appreciate their service, and sympathize with them for this quirk in the law that prohibits handgun possession even after foreign service, but part of the adaption process of returning to civilian life is getting used to the fact that not every altercation requires a response with a firearm.

Leave a Reply

Comments may be edited for content. Please avoid harsh language and profanity. Flaming or use of threatening language is not allowed. Adding a signature is completely optional. I reserve the right to edit or delete comments as I feel necessary. If you do not like the way your comment has been edited, let me know and I will delete it. Thanks for commenting! (It may appear that your comment does not post at first. However, it will usually appear once the administrator logs in.) Leaving a comment does not create an attorney client relationship, and no confidential information should be left in a comment.

Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking: www.grahamdefense.com
Law Office of Steve Graham
1312 North Monroe Street, #140
Spokane, WA 99201
(509) 252-9167
Blogs I Read