Why The Trace Is Wrong To Try To Justify Age Limits

When you think of reasoned debate, The Trace isn’t the place you go to look. There’s a reason for that and it didn’t change overnight. The one positive I can say about The Trace is that unlike many places that bill themselves as journalism sites, it wears its biases on its sleeve. You know its content is going to be anti-gun because it’s an anti-gun site. The Trace exists to push for gun control.


I can respect the honest, as opposed to supposedly unbiased news organizations that push gun control habitually.

Over at The Trace, though, it has a Fudd who’s talking all about how more states need to pass age limits for long guns.

Age requirements — and the gaps in federal law — entered the spotlight in February of last year, when a 19-year-old man used a legally purchased AR-15 rifle to murder 14 of his classmates and three school staffers in Parkland, Florida. Research shows that while most mass shootings involve handguns, rifles contribute to higher casualty counts. Furthermore, there are 30 states where individuals may buy guns from a private seller without any background check or even verification of age.

Like most policies that restrict a segment of the population from owning guns, age restrictions garner stiff opposition from gun rights groups.

As a proud and longtime gun owner, I believe in the right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms. But I also believe that this right is one the government has both the authority and obligation to regulate in the interest of public safety. Increasing age requirements is an important strategy to consider.

While an 18-year-old’s brain is similar to that of a fully mature adult, key cognitive processes continue to develop until age 26. These include impulse control, which can affect an individual’s ability to safely and appropriately use a gun.

Gun rights advocates argue that while such restrictions might successfully target and prevent dangerous actions by a few, the majority of those who would be affected are responsible gun owners. This argument lacks an understanding that owning a gun comes with unique risk. While gun ownership improves the lives of some, irresponsible gun use, including actions of those thought to be law-abiding citizens, can dramatically infringe upon the lIves of others. We must bear in mind that not only do guns have the potential to cause harm to living creatures, they were designed for that purpose.


Let’s consider a number. That number is 2.4 million. That’s the number of people who defend their life with a firearm each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Now, let’s talk about age limits for a moment.

At the age of 18, our society accepts that these individuals are mature enough to operate a motor vehicle, enlist in the military, get married, sign contracts, live on their own, and any number of other things. We treat them as adults.

Now, as someone who survived being 18, I’ll agree that they’re generally not particularly bright adults, at least compared to who they will be later on, but they’re still treated as adults.

What this proposal does is say, “Sure, you’re an adult…but you’re going to be subjected to any violent crime that may befall you simply because a handful of bad actors made it so you can’t have a gun.”

At this point, people age 18 to 20 are already barred from having a handgun, which is a problem for me, but it’s already the law. Instead, they can only have a long gun.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), only 248 people were murdered with a rifle. Another 262 were killed with a shotgun. That’s just a hair over 500 people in a nation of around 330 million.

In other words, long guns aren’t a problem.

By trying to push for age limits, however, anti-gunners are looking at a problem that simply doesn’t exist and blaming an entire age category of people, most of whom have done nothing wrong.


While the writer’s correct that guns being misused can cause problems, this isn’t a solution. Instead, a better solution would be to push schools to include firearm safety courses as part of their regular curriculum. People who know and understand about guns are less likely to be careless with guns. Surely educating people on safe firearm handling practices should be non-controversial, right?

But trying to discriminate against legal adults because of the actions of a minute fraction of their age group isn’t just wrong, it’s ridiculous.

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