Most of you already know that I am a strong believer in the Second Amendment. I am a member of the NRA and hold a Kansas Concealed Handgun License.
But, I’ve never questioned laws that require an individual to be over 18 to purchase a firearm. In fact, I’ve never questioned laws that require an individual to be over 21 to purchase a handgun.
But now I feel the need to question raising the minimum age to 21 in order to purchase any firearm.
What happened in Florida on Ash Wednesday was tragic. We need to explore and implement real solutions and quit our characteristic lip service when it comes to protecting our children.
But it bears pointing out that a law making it illegal for an individual under 21 to purchase firearms would have made no diff erence in this case. Florida law still allows possession of loaded rifles and shotguns for individuals over the age of 16.
So where would that have left Florida? In exactly the same position. That disturbed 19-year-old could still own the AR-15 he had; he just would not have been able to have purchased it himself. Of course, I’m pretty sure he really didn’t care what was legal anyway. Most mass
So here is my dilemma. By raising the age, we would be creating a whole new class of citizens, where legal adults receive partial constitutional protection, but are not eligible for full constitutional protection until they are 21. (Note that this would also include military servicemen and women that may have extensive firearms training yet have not reached their 21st birthday, not just that avid sports hunter or 20 year-old single mother of two needing to protect her family.)
I kind of understand denying gun purchases to individuals under 18; after all when you are not a “legal adult” you fall under the authority of your parents and they are (or at least should be) responsible for you including providing for your protection and should be involved in the decision of whether or not you possess a firearm.
Could raising the age to 21 be the slippery slope that allows other constitutional rights to be denied to “certain groups of citizens?” What if freedom of speech or the right to vote no longer applies to “certain groups of people” not specifically mentioned in the constitution? Personally, that’s a road I’d rather not travel.
I had someone point out to me the other day that you had to be 21 to buy liquor, but not to buy guns. It might sound reasonable in theory, but let’s be realistic. Buying and/or consuming liquor is not constitutionally protected. The right to bear arms is.
If we truly believe that the age to receive “full citizenship” should be 21, then that should be the age we are considered “legal” adults in all matters.
That means we should look at extending secondary education another three years (as well as parental responsibility), and increasing the draft age, the age to vote, the age to legally enter into contracts, and a plethora of other things.
The Second Amendment, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights, was put in place to guarantee the personal freedoms necessary for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The framers believed the right to bear arms was the primary right by which all other rights could be protected. The Constitution in its entirety including the Second Amendment should apply equally to all adult citizens other than those who have forfeited those rights through criminal behavior, or whose mental illness renders them a danger to society.
Raising the age to purchase firearms only creates a constitutional crisis; it will not offer our children more protection.
We need to quit offering solutions that make us feel good or at least they do until the next shooting. We need to stop political posturing and figure out real solutions.