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Gun Control Fan Says NRA Is Right To Challenge Under-21 Gun Ban

(AP Photo/AJ Mast, File)

Give the Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell some credit for recognizing that the NRA’s stance on Florida’s ban on gun sales to adults under the age of 21 is the correct position to take, but don’t expect Maxwell to be feted at the group’s upcoming annual meeting in Houston, Texas. Maxwell is still an avid advocate for restricting the right to keep and bear arms. He just doesn’t believe the restrictions should be based on age.

If America thinks that you’re old enough to go to war when you’re 18, you should be able to buy a hunting rifle at age 20.

And what of the 20-year-old single mother or father who lives alone? Even the federal judge — who otherwise shot down the NRA’s arguments in an early court battle — was sympathetic to those adults wanting to protect themselves.

This country needs to pick an age for adulthood and stick with it. At 18, you can enlist in the Army without parental consent. But you can’t buy a firearm or a beer.

Another glaring inconsistency: It’s widely accepted that anyone 18 is an adult when it comes to charging them as a crime. So we can execute them when they’re 18 but not trust them to have a glass of chardonnay or a .22 rifle when they’re 20.

Holy cow, I actually agree with a gun control fan about something. I think Maxwell’s spot-on when he says we need one age for adulthood, instead of the sliding scale that we use depending what exactly a young adult wants to do. Want to get married? Yeah, you’re old enough at 18 to make that decision. Buy a beer? Oh, hell no. Purchase a gun? Are you out of your mind? Want to carry a gun in combat? Of course you can! Just sign this enlistment form.

It makes no sense. Unfortunately, neither does the rest of Maxwell’s argument.

The problem with this law is that we’re now debating and defending the wrong gun issue.

We’re fighting over denying rights to law-abiding 20-year-olds instead of trying to make sure criminals can’t buy weapons meant to slaughter as many people as possible.

All because the cowardly lickspittles in the Legislature didn’t take needed action.

Almost all Americans believe in universal background checks. We’re talking about 89%, according to a Quinnipiac poll from earlier this year.

Why? Because it’s just common sense. If the law says convicted criminals shouldn’t be able to buy weapons, then the state shouldn’t give them a loophole — whether at a gun show or through any other private seller — that allows them to do so.

The law says convicted criminals aren’t allowed to possess firearms, so whether they’re getting them through private sales, theft, straw purchases, or family and friends, it’s still a crime. Universal background check laws, while politically popular, are completely ineffective at actually preventing criminals from obtaining a firearm. In fact, these laws are so ineffective that they’re rarely, if ever, used by police or prosecutors, even in states where universal background checks were put in place amid much fanfare on the part of gun control activists and their anti-gun allies in the statehouse.

The same goes for high-capacity magazines, which 61% of Americans support banning. Cops don’t want them on the streets either, noting that guns and accessories made to help shooters mow down crowds of people in rapid succession aren’t needed for either hunting or self-defense.

Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, filed a bill to ban high-capacity magazines. But while Parkland was still mourning, the NRA objected and GOP legislators killed her bill. Jason Brodeur, Scott Plakon and Rene Plasencia were among the local reps who voted to keep the tools of mass slaughter legal. All were subsequently re-elected.

I don’t know which cops Maxwell’s talking to, but the vast majority of officers I know aren’t in favor of magazine or gun bans. A 2012 poll of Police Magazine readers also found that 84% of respondents said that a ban on so-called assault weapons wouldn’t reduce the number of mass shootings in this country.

More importantly, while Maxwell objects to denying young adults their constitutional rights, he’s fine with stripping every American of their right to own the most common rifle in the United States, along with magazines over 10-rounds, which are in common use in all 50 states and are possessed by tens of millions of lawful gun owners.

Of course gun violence is a complicated issue that involves mental health, family involvement, popular culture and a lot more. But a big part of tackling gun violence means tackling illegal gun sales.

And yet as long as the people of this state keep electing politicians who take orders from the NRA, that won’t happen. Instead, we’re left where we are now — arguing about laws that target law-abiding 20-year-olds instead of criminals eager to get their hands on weapons of mass slaughter.

The argument in favor of gun bans for under-21s is that a disproportionate number of violent crimes are committed by young adults. I happen to think that’s a pretty weak argument, but Maxwell’s argument that we need to ban some guns for everyone because some criminals might use those firearms is even more absurd. We don’t ban sports cars because of drunk drivers. We don’t ban social media because sex traffickers and drug dealers use platforms to conduct business. Why on earth would Maxwell believe that we can and should ban some firearms or magazines because violent criminals sometimes use them to commit their heinous acts?

Even beyond the obvious constitutional issues, Maxwell’s argument just doesn’t make much sense. Instead of laws that target law-abiding gun owners of any age, we should be focused on reducing the demand for firearms among criminals by delivering swift and certain consequences for using a firearm in the commission of a crime. Of course, if Maxwell ultimately embraced that position, he’d find himself in agreement with the NRA and gun owners on far more than Florida’s ban on gun sales to under-21s… and I doubt he’s ready to take that step, even if it’s where his argument should lead him.

Jan 17, 2022 5:30 PM ET