Increase in minimum age to buy guns necessary for safety


Andre Carrotflower - Wikimedia Commons

The Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, NY was the target of a mass shooting by an 18 year old gunman who killed 10 people. A minimum age limit to buy guns of 21 is needed to help prevent such incidents in the future.

Editorial Board

As Midtown returned for the 2022-23 school year, several gun-related incidents have raised security concerns in the community, from a shooting after a party hosted at a Midtown former student’s home to an anonymous shooting threat made to the school. Last year, Atlanta Public Schools reported finding 27 guns in schools across the district, prompting concerns over not only school safety, but also gun possession in the community.

In the U.S., the legal age for buying shotguns and rifles is 18 years old, with other types of guns restricted to 21 years old. That means, legally, a person in the U.S. can buy a shotgun or rifle three years before they are allowed to buy alcohol, tobacco or e-cigarettes. Currently, the gun possession laws in the U.S. are not nearly as severe as they should be. These laws make it much easier for people to get guns when they are not responsible enough to do so. This poses a danger to everybody around them, especially young people. 

Along with the already lenient nationwide gun possession laws, there are also few restrictions on teenagers owning guns that they don’t buy (such as guns given as presents). In many situations across the country, underage teenagers illegally receive firearms as presents from parents. This was the case in the shooting in Buffalo, NY on May 14th of this year, where an 18-year-old killed three in a grocery store shooting. Such a lack of restrictions can put guns in the wrong hands, and create unneeded violence nationwide.

Research has found that the development of rational thinking is not complete until around the age of 25. Furthermore, teenagers generally think more with their amygdala while adults think more with their frontal lobe. This means that teenagers are more likely to act impulsively and be influenced by outside pressure. Because of this, teenagers are legally prohibited from buying alcohol, tobacco products, e-cigarettes and marijuana (in states where it is legal) until the age of 21. This was done so that harmful substances would be kept out of the hands of those most susceptible to addiction. However, the gun laws are much less strict, and people can legally get a gun three years before they can purchase any of these products. Despite this, guns are far more dangerous in the hands of teenagers than items like alcohol or cigarettes. 

Although incidents like drunk driving are dangerous, young people who smoke and drink primarily only put themselves at risk. However, guns make young people much more dangerous, not only to themselves, but also to the people around them. Firearms are the leading cause of death in children 1-18, with the majority of these 18,000 deaths coming from firearms that were fired by others in the same age group. Guns are extremely dangerous in the hands of all people, especially kids who have the tendency to act irrationally and impulsively due to their brains not being fully developed yet. 

Although many of these accidents occur because of unsafe gun storage, possession laws are also a factor. Additionally, teenagers are also at a higher risk of suicide than the general population because of higher rates of depression. Everytown, a non-profit focused on reducing gun violence, said “??firearm suicide makes up over a third of all gun deaths and nearly half of suicides among young people.” This situation is made worse by laws that do not do enough to prevent young people from acquiring guns. 

Currently, the gun possession laws in the U.S. are not nearly as severe as they should be, and such laws allow for deadly massacres such as the Buffalo shooting to occur. Just as kids are not allowed access to e-cigarettes, alcohol, and tobacco until 21, the same rules should apply to guns, not only for the safety of kids, but also for the safety of those who live around them. Doing so would allow kids to be more rational and less impulsive in their decisions which would drastically reduce the severe levels of gun deaths in the U.S.