Photo by Les Stukenberg.
The talk on the local and national streets has been “what to do about guns?”
In the wake of another school shooting — this one at a Parkland, Florida, high school, where the lives of 17 people were needlessly stolen — one proposed answer that has emerged is to raise the age for purchasing certain guns.
Current U.S. law dictates that a person must be 21 or older to buy a handgun. However, one need be only 18 to purchase long guns — rifles, including AR-15s and other military-style weapons.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said this week he wants to restrict consumer access to those weapons by banning sales of long guns to anyone younger than 21. Flake co-sponsored legislation to raise the age requirement.
“A kid too young (to) buy a handgun should be too young to buy an AR-15,” he is quoted as saying in an article the Courier published Wednesday.
The logic is there — considering that many school shooters are younger than 21.
And, despite the fact that men and women younger than 21 are issued firearms when they join the military, they receive proper training and have already been vetted by the military prior to joining, said Matt Siebert, who co-owns Insight Firearms in Prescott Valley. By contrast, someone who buys a gun over the counter is not required to take any classes on gun use.
Still, as Donald Grier of Prescott Gun Club points out, most firearm crimes involve handguns, so raising the age does not matter, he reasons.
Thus, the benefits of the raising the age becomes unclear. Even so, the current laws and restrictions are not working.
Likewise, when politicians and other officials turn the issue from working on a solution to personal attacks — for example, people saying Flake “hates freedom” because he is endorsing any kind of gun control — it’s easy to see why the search for solutions to gun violence gains little traction each time it comes up.
But something must be done.
The Courier has always advocated for training. Additionally, the legal sale of guns to youths makes little sense.
The challenge comes when we weigh the fact that anyone who wants a gun will find a way to get one — legally or illegally.
That is why the argument often turns to helping those with mental illness and tracking their history, as in the case of the Virginia Tech shooter in 2007. His records of treatment for mental health did not carry over when he went from high school to college.
Again, no one can deny that something is not working.
This editorial is an opening of the discussion. Let us know what you think is a good — or feasible — solution to this scourge on our nation.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit dCourier.com to take part in our latest poll: Are stricter gun laws the answer? (http://dcourier.com/polls)
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