P5d: Raise the Legal Purchase Age to 21

This post is one among many in a long series of planned blog posts about proposed gun control measures to reduce the risk of mass shootings.

Link to Serious Example of this Proposalhttp://lawcenter.giffords.org/gun-laws/policy-areas/who-can-have-a-gun/minimum-age/

1) What problem does it solve?

“… data shows that young adults account for a disproportionate number of gun homicides and suicides.” http://lawcenter.giffords.org/gun-laws/policy-areas/who-can-have-a-gun/minimum-age/

2) How well does it solve the problem?

Affirmative Answer:

Laws that prohibit unsupervised possession or purchase of firearms by children and young people can prevent tragedies. Based on data from the FBI, 18- to 24-year-olds account for a disproportionate percentage of arrests for homicide and violent crime in general. A survey of convicted gun offenders in 13 states found that nearly a quarter of them would have been prohibited from obtaining firearms at the time of the crime if the minimum legal age for possessing any type of firearm was 21 years. Yet, as described below, federal law and the laws in most states continue to allow unsupervised access to firearms by individuals in these age groups.” http://lawcenter.giffords.org/gun-laws/policy-areas/who-can-have-a-gun/minimum-age/

Negative Answer:

(a) “If the aim merely is to prevent anyone under 21 from possessing a military-style assault weapon, it won’t work and doesn’t make sense. There are millions of such firearms already out there for the grabbing. And the vast majority of mass shootings are committed by older adults, anyway.” http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-skelton-guns-schools-teachers-20180301-story.html

(b) “Of the 23 deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history, three (Parkland, Sandy Hook, and Columbine) were perpetrated by killers younger than 21 who used rifles. The Sandy Hook shooter, who was 20, used a Bushmaster XM-15 bought by his mother, so a higher purchase age clearly would not have thwarted him. The Columbine killers, who were both younger than 18 when they started collecting weapons, obtained two shotguns and a Hi-Point 995 carbine through a straw purchase by an acquaintance who was 18. If the purchase age had been 21, they might have found an older straw buyer, or they might have obtained the long guns through an illegal private sale, which is how they acquired an Intratec TEC-DC9 pistol.” https://reason.com/blog/2018/02/26/can-congress-save-lives-by-raising-the-r

3) What new problems does it add?

Affirmative Answer: None

Negative Answer: None

4) What are the economic and social costs?

Affirmative Answer: TBD

Negative Answer:

(a) It infringes on the rights of people under 21. “For those who believe that all long guns — rifles and shotguns — should be denied to people under 21, that’s an unwarranted infringement on young adults’ rights. That last sentence may sound faintly like a National Rifle Assn. echo, but so be it. Even the NRA can be right sometimes.” http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-skelton-guns-schools-teachers-20180301-story.html

(b) The proposed ban would increase the inconsistencies in age restrictions in federal law. “Doesn’t make sense that an 18-year-old can enlist in the Army and be armed with an automatic M-16 to fight terrorists, but can’t buy a bolt-action plinker back home until he’s 21.” http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-skelton-guns-schools-teachers-20180301-story.html

5) Given the above, is it worth the costs?

Affirmative Answer: Yes

Negative Answer: No

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