In Opposition To Raising The Age To Purchase Firearms…

Stratis Bohle

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On Thursday, February 22 President Trump along with Governor Rick Scott of Florida advocated for the raising of the minimum age requirement for firearms to the age of 21. Why even bother having an age of majority in the United States if so many rights are spread over five-year period for being allowed to exercise those rights? My three main reasons why the President shouldn’t raise the minimum age for owning a firearm is that, 18-year-olds are allowed into the military, the majority of mass shootings were by shooters over the age of 21 and that we are having legislation that feels rushed.

In the 1960’s during the Vietnam War, the age to vote in elections was 18-21 throughout the country but the age to be drafted was 18 federally. Teenagers and Anti-War protesters fought against this injustice and that is why we have the 26th Amendment, which makes the age to vote in elections 18 federally. If we allow people to be able to join or drafted into the Armed Forces and trusted to use weapons before they can even legally use weapons of lesser power at home, then we are insane.

Why can you trust a soldier at 18 better than a 20-year-old upstanding citizen? A number of shooters were in the military or former military veterans. The Navy Yard Shooter in 2013 was Aaron Alexis, a Navy contractor and former Navy enlisted man, who shot and killed twelve. The Fort Hood Shooters in 2009 and 2014 were both in the Army. Lee Harvey Oswald, who killed President Kennedy was a former Marine. The Sikh Temple Shooting in 2012 was caused by Wade Michael Page who was a member of the U.S. Army. The Dallas Cop Killer in 2016 was an Army veteran Dionisio Garza III, 25. The Fort Lauderdale Shooter was Esteban Santiago, a 26-year-old Iraq war veteran as part of the Puerto Rican National Guard who killed 6. Charles Whitman, the first Mass Shooter in the United States killed 17 people in a killing spree with 11 from his shooting from the Texas A&M clock tower. Whitman was a member of the Marine Corps and received the  Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, which he received 215 out of the 250 possible points.

As shown above, military veterans can cause these mass shootings, so if they can use more deadly weapons than their peers. In order to solve this problem, we could either raise the age to the draft or lower the age to purchase all firearms. To raise the draft age would be incredibly detrimental to the U.S. military. A good number of military recruits join for the benefits such as the G.I. Bill, which at 21 would be at roughly 3 years into college if they are using the G.I. Bill which would render its effects useless. They also have a more stable relationships within the working world and aren’t fresh from the family home into the world so not as many would feel lost and join the armed forcesAlso it would greatly reduce the effectiveness of the armed forces, in case of a war.

Secondly, the restriction on rifles wouldn’t even stop the majority of shootings in this country. Most homicides with a firearm are with a handgun, which is already under federal law only permitted to be bought by someone over the age of 21, and the majority of these mass shootings are by those over the age of 21. According to the FBI, out of the 7,927 homicides by a firearm where the type of firearm was reported, only 7,105 were by  handguns, 374 were by rifle and 262 were from shotguns. 90% of these firearm deaths were due to a handgun, which already has been restricted to the same proposal as the President suggests, requiring the buyer of this firearm to be age 21 or older. Clearly, this restriction doesn’t work as evidenced by the 7,105 lives lost due to hand guns.

All of the prior Military shooters were over the age of 21, and out of the top 10 mass shootings in the United States only 2 were under the age of 21, Adam Lanza of the Sandy Hook Shooting and Nikolas Cruz of the Parkland School Shooting who are at #4 and 9 respectively. The most deadly shooting was by 64-year-old Stephen Paddock on the 1st of October in Las Vegas. Paddock killed 59 including himself and injured over 800. His only trouble with the law was traffic citations, which are civil violations not criminal. If this law went into place prior to the Sandy Hook shooting, then only the Parkland shooting may have been prevented. Remember, Adam Lanza stole his mother’s firearms and then killed her, he never purchased the guns.

Finally, these new laws introduced in the Florida legislature are rushed. Within 3 weeks of the massacre, Governor Rick Scott signed a piece of legislation banning those under the age of 21 from purchasing firearms violating Federal Legislation, which only states that handguns can only be sold to those 21 years of age or older. It also adds a 3 day waiting period to purchases and would allow the arming of teachers at district discretion.

The proof is in the pudding that this legislation was rushed by the inclusion of arming teachers. Arming teachers just add more combatants to a horrifying school shooting. Who is to say that, considering the polices track record of shooting civilians, one of these armed teachers won’t get struck by an officer when they arrive at a school shooting scene? Also what if a teacher snaps and draws their weapon on a student? We even have had two instances in the month of March where a teacher fired their firearm in the classroom when no threat was there or believed to be.

If this legislation spreads nationwide, teachers will be doing two very important jobs, but are one of the lowest paid public professions, as evidenced by the West Virginia and Oklahoma teacher strikes in the past month. To be given more responsibility but have no increase in pay is crazy. No one should willingly do this, especially due to the possibility of being sued for a wrongful death if, God forbid, they had to fire their weapon. Furthermore, having rushed legislation just hurts the populace as the Patriot Act helped to broaden the TSA and they cant even do their job correctly. They had a 95% failure rate in 2015 tests for effectiveness by the Department of Homeland Security

In short, the proposed change of raising the age to purchase firearms is a knee-jerk movement, wouldn’t affect the majority of these mass shootings and is hypocritical with our military. If the states plan to go through with this idea, then one must expect to see a significant push back. people will kill, whether it be through a firearm, a knife, a car or even with their own bare hands. Restricting firearms is just a preposterous idea, that will cause more harm than good and must therefore not be supported.

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