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Opinion: Raise Minimum Age to Own Firearms

By: Owen Fugit


The AR-15 — a very popular semi-automatic rifle that was first developed in the 1950s. It was the starting point for the design of the M16 assault rifle used by the U.S. military and can be bought online for around 550 dollars. We’ve seen how much damage these weapons can do. Due to the destructive properties of these weapons, the U.S. government needs to raise the minimum age to own any firearm to 21 years or older.

The most impactful reason to raise the age of ownership has to do with brain development. Everyone hears the stories of 18 or 19-year-olds who have purchased an assault rifle and then committed mass murder. This happened with the shooter in Uvalde, Texas, for example. The 18-year-old shooter purchased 2 assault-style weapons, one of which was a DDM4, a replica of the military issue M4. The shooter proceeded to murder 21 students and staff at an elementary school. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a division of the NIH, the brain has not fully developed the prefrontal cortex, the area that controls impulses and prioritizing, until the mid to late 20s. An 18-year-old with an underdeveloped brain, such as the shooter in Uvalde, Texas, therefore should not be able to purchase a weapon since they lack proper impulse control.

I do not think we should ban access to all guns. Many people can’t live without a gun. Either for safety reasons or for recreational use, guns are an important part of millions of Americans’ lives. There are a few things we can do to stop gun violence and increase gun safety while preserving the rights of current gun owners. We first need to stop viewing guns as the source of the problem. Just like how we don’t attribute art to the paintbrush the artist uses, we must separate the gun from the person. 

An option for America today is to create a firearm licensing system. This would be similar to a driver’s license, where an applicant would have to meet multiple requirements to receive a license. These requirements would include many days of gun safety training, along with reviewing the laws surrounding guns, before someone could obtain said license. This license could also be revoked if an individual is deemed high-risk. This is similar to the red flag laws already in place, which prevent a criminal or someone suffering from a mental illness from purchasing a gun. In addition, many people could benefit from being more understanding of firearm owners.

I am not pro-gun, but I recognize that guns are an essential part of millions of Americans’ lives. To finally settle this ongoing firearm debate, I believe that the U.S. Government needs to take action now and raise the legal minimum age for purchasing and owning a firearm to 21 years or older.


(Sources: AP News, NIH/NIMH, Pew Research)

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