Yet another state has stripped its young adults of their Second Amendment rights – but there’s no traitorous politician to blame this time, like when Vermont’s so-called Republican Governor Phil Scott succumbed to the fear of the gun. Instead, in much the same way the majority of voting Arkansans and Missourians screwed themselves and their peers over minimum wage, the people of Washington demanded this infringement upon their and their neighbors’ rights through direct democracy.
Washington’s I-1639 passed with 60% of the popular vote – 1,322,308 to 874,588 – and prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from buying semi-automatic rifles. This ballot initiative also strengthens the background check, institutes a 10-day waiting period, and requires those who possess firearms legally to store their guns “responsibly,” establishing shared guilt between the legal gun owner and the criminal should someone else commit a crime using their weapons.
If there is a right to life and liberty, then there must be a right to defend both – else they mean naught.
Those who supported the measure – about 60% of the voting public, evidently – believe that taking more guns out of the hands of young adults will reduce gun violence. What they apparently missed is the fact, which even the strongly left-biased publication Vox was forced to admit, that less than 3% of all homicides by firearm are carried out with rifles. While certain high-profile shooters recently did use rifles, the overwhelming gun of choice for violent criminals is the handgun.
Even for the attacks carried out with rifles, claiming that measures such as this would reduce crime requires some evidence both that it would keep such weapons out of the hands of dangerous shooters and that the person determined to kill others won’t merely choose a handgun, shotgun, or some other form of rifle if a so-called “Assault Rifle” isn’t handy.
In truth, taking a specific type of rifle away from a seemingly arbitrarily chosen set of people mostly irrelevant to the issue of mass shootings has no real potential to save lives. A mass shooting is a single attack in which four or more people are killed by the shooter. Of the 156 that occurred between 2009 and 2016, only two were perpetrated by assailants under 21 with semi-automatic rifles – and only one of those young men owned his gun legally! So, if we assume that the other fella wouldn’t have chosen a different firearm, such laws might have prevented a single attack over a period of seven years.
While restricting the right to keep and bear arms for new swaths of the population won’t do any good, it absolutely does create a new problem: A significant number of young adults would be prohibited from purchasing adequate defensive weapons.
Though ironic coming from the same folk crying for 16-year-olds to have the power of the vote, the argument that we aren’t fully developed adults until some time in our twenties has merit. There is strong evidence that the human brain doesn’t reach full maturity until somewhere around age 25.
Indeed, even without the science to back it up, the Founders had a sense of this as well. In the early days of the Republic, the age of majority was generally considered 21 – the voting age didn’t drop to 18 until 1971.
Interestingly enough, however, the minimum firearm purchase age wasn’t established and tied to the age of majority until the 1960s.
Early American laws aside, the flaw in the argument that 18 and 19-year-olds today aren’t sufficiently grown up to own guns is that we recognize them legally as adult enough for just about everything else. The very argument progressives used to inflate their voter pool by lowering the voting age to 18 – that if they’re old enough to be conscripted, they’re grown enough – is true for gun ownership as well.
If an 18-year-old can work full time, buy a house, get married, have kids, have his say in who makes up our government, why then should he not be able to buy any gun he so chooses? All other considerations aside, if we follow the logic of the Second Amendment back to its source, we see that no further argument is needed. If there is a right to life and liberty, then there must be a right to defend both – else they mean naught. If an 18-year-old is enough of an adult to separate from his parents and live a life of his own, then he is adult enough to take up arms to secure it.