Advocate Sends Mixed Signals on Proposed Age Restrictions

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The idea of issues more age restrictions on gun purchases is always going to be a problem for me. The reason it’s an issue is that we treat 18-year-olds as adults in every other avenue of life, but the idea that we should shut them out of this one right because they’re too young makes them second-class citizens.


What’s more, the vast majority of people between the ages of 18 and 21 that represent a problem aren’t exactly going into their local gun store to get firearms in the first place.

Regardless, a number of states have either restricted them from getting guns or are considering it.

One such state is New Mexico. Considering what we’ve seen out of the state lately, that was never a surprise.

What is a surprise, however, is the very mixed signals I saw when I read this story.

Gun control legislation is making headway in the 2024 New Mexico legislative session.

On Wednesday, the New Mexico Senate passed a bill to ban guns near polling places and drop boxes. Another bill already passed by a House legislative committee would raise the legal age to possess automatic firearms from 18 to 21.

Marshall Martinez, executive director of Equality New Mexico, said many in the LGBTQ community support a higher gun purchase age, but do not want it tied to more incarceration.

“We think that it’s a good idea to say, ‘No, you can wait until you’re 21 to get a gun.’ But we don’t necessarily want a situation where a young person who ends up with access to a weapon is automatically put in jail,” Martinez explained.


If you don’t want the law to lead to increased incarceration, then you clearly don’t see it as very much of an issue.

For the sake of argument, let’s pretend I somehow found a way to agree that age restrictions were a good thing.

If that were the case, then I’d want that ban to have some kind of teeth. I’d want there to be some kind of punishment that, while not necessary deterring people, would at least remove those menaces to society that ignore the law from society as a whole.

But Martinez doesn’t. He says he doesn’t want people being locked up for breaking this particular law.

If we preclude incarceration as a punishment, then, what we’re left with is a fine for someone under the age of 21 found to have a firearm.

A fine just means legal for a price.

So age restrictions would really just apply to those who can’t afford to risk the fine. That means the wealthier people in the state could easily ignore these same age restrictions where poorer New Mexicans would be screwed.

If it’s so necessary to limit who can own a firearm by age, then age restrictions need to have some degree of penalty that isn’t so easily shrugged off.


But this isn’t just something we see with age restrictions. Gun control advocates often send mixed signals on guns. They don’t want people being locked up for breaking the law, they just want to keep the law-abiding from doing a thing. It’s like they don’t even hear themselves.

Especially since the law-abiding aren’t the problem in the first place.

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