Oklahoma Seeks to Lower Handgun Purchase Age to 18

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

One major issue with raising the age to purchase long guns to 21 is that it makes it illegal for adults under that age to buy any firearm lawfully. Federal law says that those under 21 can't buy handguns, so if you eliminate long guns as well, folks in that age group are prohibited from buying anything. That means they basically have no right to self-defense.


Sure, in practice, they do, but without being able to access the means with which they could defend themselves, there's an issue.

In a state like Oklahoma, though, that's not much of a risk. There's not much chance they'll raise the age to buy a long gun to 21.

As a matter of fact, they're trying something completely different. They want to allow people under 21 to buy handguns.

Senate Bill 1218 was introduced by Senator Bullard and would make it so that no person 18 years or older within the state could be denied purchasing a firearm based on age unless otherwise prohibited by law.

Representative John Waldron says this bill would enable 18 to 20-year-olds to purchase handguns in Oklahoma.

"I don't see how you can make that change because that's going to have to be a federal law," said Robert Jerome, the Assistant Manager at 2A Shooting Center.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits people under 21 from buying handguns.

"A West Virginia federal judge recently ruled that just barring handgun purchases by 18 to 20-year-olds was age discrimination," said Representative John Waldron.

Waldron says he’s expecting this federal ruling to be appealed, but Oklahoma is already acting to remove the requirement for people to wait until they’re 21 to buy a handgun.

Looking at the bill itself, it doesn't just apply to face-to-face transfers and it doesn't actually tell dealers to break the law. What it does do, though, is tell dealers to document the denial and forward it to state law enforcement.

It looks like this is just a bill seeking to lay the groundwork for the current age prohibitions to be overturned by the courts, which I'm fine with. If you're going to say people over 18 are old enough to vote, enlist in the military, and everything else that comes with being an adult, their right to keep and bear arms--which includes the purchase of firearms--should be preserved as well.


If they're not capable of doing any part of that, then they shouldn't be treated as adults in general.

Since this bill doesn't try to nullify federal law, there really shouldn't be any obstacle to the bill going into effect should it pass. While federal law deserves to be nullified, the truth is that we're seeing issues with that from what all Missouri has had to deal with from its nullification law.

Oklahoma should avoid all of that.

Now, the big question is what will the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation do with records of denied NICS checks for people under the age of 21. The bill doesn't say, only that "evidence of such denial" should be submitted to them.

I'm sure people will want to know that before they can support this because what I'm not cool with is the state having records of people who tried to lawfully buy a gun.

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