Guns are not safe to be in an 18-year-old’s hands

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Mother and her daughter mourn their daughter who was one of the nineteen children killed in the Uvalde shooting.

Leila Feldman, Staff Writer

On Wednesday May 25, 2022, I sent my mom a text that read as follows: “Things I will NOT be able to do on my 18th birthday: have a drink, smoke a cigarette, rent a car. Things I will be able to do on my 18th birthday: buy an AR-15.”

This was prompted by the 18-year-old gunman who opened fire on Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday May 24, 2022. He killed 19 kids, two teachers, and his grandmother. 

This is the second deadliest school shooting since the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, at Sandy Hook elementary school. The shooter killed a room of first graders when I was in first grade. 

So as I sit here writing this article, nearly ten years later, I feel deeply mortified. Because we are still not willing to change our gun laws to protect children. Because hundreds of children have unwillingly laid down their lives due to our refusal to adjust our perspectives. Because for another two weeks, my ten-year-old sister will go to her elementary school and she will learn in fear. Because hundreds of people have died and we continue to watch it happen and offer our “thoughts and prayers.” It just didn’t—and still doesn’t—make sense to me. 

So, in my fury and fear, I learned that the rifle was an AR-15. He legally purchased two on his 18th birthday. Then it hit me.

On my 18th birthday (which is less than two years away), I will still live in my parents’ house, I will be in highschool, I will not be able to drink, smoke, or vape legally, I can still get a UV, I will not be able to rent a rental car, but anybody in my grade could own an AR-15 and the law couldn’t stop them. Why do we allow for that? The answer is that we shouldn’t. 

A study released from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found that people aged 18-20 are far more likely to commit violent crimes than those older than them. As well, the U.S Department of Justice found that the most common age that people commit homicides is 18. Finally, as of 2010, 18-20 year-olds accounted for about “5 percent of the population and about 20% of homicide and manslaughter arrests” according to the New York Times. Statistically, it’s clearly not smart to let 18 year olds own a gun.

I understand the second amendment. For those of us who need a refresher, it reads: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

 Notice the language that our founding fathers use here doesn’t focus on what age someone should be able to legally carry a firearm, rather the general idea of possessing one. Another common argument is that changing the age of owning a firearm is an “infringement” but according to Miriam Webster an infringement is “the action of breaking the terms of a law, agreement, etc.” Moving the age limit back three years is not breaking the terms of the law. Americans can still own a gun, and they can still bear arms — just at an age where they are statistically less likely to commit a homicide. 

But why has the national government instead fixated on continuing to push back the age for drinking and tobacco instead of guns? 

Drinking and smoking (while dangerous and not a good idea) do not kill nineteen children on a random Tuesday morning. As well, the United States is one of only sixteen countries worldwide to have a drinking age higher than 18 or 19, according to The Ticker. Meaning that out of 116 countries, we are in the 16 that are the most restrictive with our drinking age. 

A common argument that is used to advocate for a higher drinking age is to reduce the number of drunk drivers, but in reality the lower the drinking age the lower the drunk driving accidents. In countries like Germany and Russia, where the drinking age is 16 and 18 respectively, the rate of crash due to drunk driving is only 9%. In the United States, drunk driving counts for 31% of crashes, making us the third highest in the world. 

Yet we refuse to move the age of possessing a firearm. 

Firearms are deadly. 

They will always be deadly. 

We (as a nation) can not continue to put deadly weapons in the hands of people who are statistically not stable enough to carry a rifle. If the same people who our government claims aren’t responsible enough to drink a beer on their eighteenth birthday can carry a semiautomatic rifle, then we need to re-evaluate more than just our smoke breaks.