FOX News co-anchor Bill Hemmer recently asked one of his guests how any government – municipal, state or federal – could justify raising the age to 21 before an individual could purchase a weapon, when we are putting M16 assault rifles into the hands of 18-year-olds who enlist in the U.S. armed forces.
No justification is needed. Here’s why.
Anyone who has served knows that weapons training and accountability are pivotal factors when rifles and sidearms are issued to our men and women in uniform. When not in use, the weapons are secured under lock and key. And when the weapons are employed, those who carry them are under strict supervision, usually by non-commissioned officers with strong records for administering discipline and commending respect among their charges.
Such is not always the case with those under age 21 in the civilian sector. In some cases – single-parent households, for example – supervision is lacking and sometimes even non-existent. Responsibility for gun ownership is not always easily developed among youngsters who have other things on their minds and who have free rein in their social circles.
So, the difference between the average youngster under 21 years old in civilian life versus his or her counterpart serving in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard is the difference between night and day.
Asked, and answered, Mr. Hemmer.
In a related development, NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker recently said that passing a law to make it “illegal for a 20-year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or an adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle … punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals.”
Poppycock. It’s not punishment. It’s preventive maintenance, to better increase the chances that the purchaser is mature enough to handle the responsibility of owning a firearm.
Today’s gun-purchase laws should mandate age 21 as the standard. But exceptions could be built into the law — for example, making it legal for people 18 to 21 years old to purchase single-shot rifles and standard shotguns upon completion of a bona fide training program, certification that there are no anger-management issues or criminal charges in their background, medical proof that they are mentally competent, and an endorsement from a local law-enforcement officer.