Op-ed calling for age limit on guns fails to make case

Op-ed calling for age limit on guns fails to make case
AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

I’m always amazed at people who actually want their rights to be restricted. Many argue that they want others’ rights limited in some way, but usually, these same people want theirs left alone. Yet young people who actually want age limits for gun purchases always baffle me.

Especially since they usually don’t understand the subject all that well.

Take this op-ed calling for just that.

On Aug.17, the first day of classes for the South Bend school district, shots were fired by a 16-year-old high school student near the intersection of Huey and Bulla streets after a group of students were dropped off by a school bus. A month later, a gun was reported on a bus transporting Jackson Middle School students home. Then, just a couple days later, a loaded gun was found by staff at Washington High School. The prevalence of firearms in the hands of young adults in Indiana is becoming all too commonplace and puts our communities at risk.

Like most Americans our age, we grew up in the shadow of gun violence. The shrieking alarms, the nervous fidgeting under desks during active shooter drills penetrated our upbringings with tangible anxiety. This issue has become intergenerational, with no group truly safe from the fear of a shooting being around the corner. Parents are now sending their kids to school not knowing if it will be the last time they see them alive. And while the vast majority of children in this country do not confront a muzzle directly, all feel its influence in their daily lives. For those growing up, this terrifying reality is beyond their realms of control.

As students at the University of Notre Dame and active members of the South Bend community, we are partnering with the Center for Social Concerns to advocate for gun violence prevention. This community is our home, and its residents our neighbors.

We are speaking from a generation whose education was equally focused on surviving during shooter drills as it was learning geometry and world history. Young adults like us, ranging from 18 to 21, are also the age of many perpetrators of gun violence, as seen in cities such as BuffaloUvaldeParkland, and most recently, St. Louis.

So they want age limits for guns.

However, there’s an issue here, because the author starts off by presenting an armed 16-year-old as some kind of evidence that current law is insufficient. That’s followed up with a tale of an armed middle school student.

The problem is, 16 is too young to buy a firearm in any state in the US, much less anywhere else. It would seem obvious that such is the case for anyone in middle school.

“But Parkland and Uvalde and-”

Yes, those were all shooters under the age of 21. Yet if 16-year-olds and middle schoolers have little trouble getting guns, what are the odds that those killers would still have gotten a firearm? I’d say pretty good, all things considered.

Let’s remember that the Columbine killers were underage as well, but they were able to amass several guns with little difficulty.

Yes, school shootings are terrible. No one is disputing this.

But the problem here is that age limits won’t keep guns out of mass shooters’ hands. It will, however, make it harder for legal adults to obtain the means to defend themselves.

If you want to stop school shootings, then focus on mental health. Don’t deny lawful adults their rights simply because you’re uncomfortable with how they might use them. That’s not how rights work.

Further, gun control simply doesn’t work to stop such shootings. It never has and it never will.