In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to raise the age limit for buying a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 years of age:
“We have not done enough to tackle the epidemic of gun violence Americans experience on our streets, in our movie theatres, and at our schools. There is bipartisan support in Congress for common-sense laws that deter would-be perpetrators of gun violence from doing harm to our communities. Currently, an 18-year-old who cannot legally purchase a handgun can legally purchase a military-style assault weapon -- that’s a dangerous, outdated loophole in America's gun laws. I am proud to... introduce this important first step to stem the violence we see across our country.”
Last Congress, original cosponsor Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) added:
“As we pray as a nation for all the victims and families devastated by the Parkland school shooting, we must not allow yet another tragedy to go unanswered. It is incumbent upon all of us to identify the root causes of this senseless violence and move to address it immediately. All options must be on the table, including comprehensive background checks, a bump stock ban, prohibiting the sale of military assault weapons and full funding for gun violence research in a comprehensive manner that could have prevented tragedies like this. This Congress can, and must, take meaningful action to put aside partisanship and work toward solutions.”
Rep. Fitzpatrick argues that it's possible to uphold the Second Amendment while also making communities safer by passing this bill:
"By raising the age restrictions for military-style semiautomatic weapons, this bipartisan bill provides parity with handgun purchases. While continuing to support Second Amendment rights, this Congress can take meaningful action to protect our children and keep our communities safe.”
Everytown for Gun Safety supports this bill. Its president, John Feinblatt, says:
“Young people between the ages of 18 and 20 are far more likely than older adults to commit a gun homicide, so it’s just common sense to restrict people in this age group from buying assault weapons. We applaud Representative Brown and the bill’s bipartisan co-sponsors for taking action on behalf of the growing majority of Americans who want lawmakers to make gun safety a top priority.”
Giffords — an organization founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) who was shot in Tucson, Arizona in 2011 and NASA astronaut and Navy Captain Mark Kelly to tackle America's gun violence crisis — also supports this bill. Giffords' managing director, Robin Lloyd, says:
“Every American knows too well the horror and heartbreak that can result if a young person can easily and legally access an assault rifle. There is absolutely no reason these deadly weapons should be easier to buy than a handgun. For months, we’ve heard elected officials in states, in Congress, and in the White House agree with voters that our laws must be updated to better protect our children and our communities, yet federal law remains unchanged."
In March 2018, President Trump told a group of lawmakers, live on cable TV, that he'd support raising the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic weapons to 21. At that time, Trump said, “It doesn’t make sense that I have to wait until I’m 21 to get a handgun, but I can get this weapon at 18." However, Trump reversed his position within weeks, after a high-profile meeting with the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The NRA has historically opposed efforts to raise the minimum age for buying semi-automatic weapons — including opposing this bill in the previous Congress.
This bill has the support of 57 bipartisan cosponsors, including 54 Democrats and three Republicans, in the current session of Congress. Last Congress, it had 33 bipartisan cosponsors, including 30 Democrats and three Republicans, and didn't receive a committee vote. In addition to the organizations quoted above, it also has the support of the American College of Physicians (ACP).
Summary by Eric Revell(Photo Credit: DBTN / iStock)