In January, Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Narragansett, South Kingstown) reintroduced legislation that would raise the minimum age to own a firearm or purchase ammunition from 18 to 21 in Rhode Island. Since Rhode Island already prohibits those under 21 from owning a handgun, this bill would effectively destroy the Second Amendment rights of 18-20-year-olds by preventing them from obtaining a long gun too.
Tanzi first introduced legislation that would increase the age to purchase a firearm or ammunition back in 2018 after the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. At the time, Tanzi claimed that her inspiration for raising the minimum age for gun ownership in the state was the existing law that made handguns only obtainable by those 21 or older. Tanzi said, “I have wondered why people could go in at 18 and purchase an AR-15-type weapon, but they have to be 21 to purchase a handgun. It seemed a little out of proportion to me. This [legislation] was an obvious way to act after Parkland.”
The data would suggest that Tanzi’s solution for solving gun violence is not only an overreaction but would be ineffective and unfair, as well. For example, the average age of a mass shooter according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government is approximately 33 years old. Likewise, most mass shootings are committed by individuals using handguns, not rifles or shotguns.
Furthermore, barring someone from owning a firearm when they are considered to be an adult in the eyes of the law is ludicrous. 18-year-olds can vote and join the military. Young men are also required to sign up for the Selective Service System when they turn 18. If somebody is deemed responsible enough to help select the next President or go off to war at 18, they should be able to own a firearm as well. Tanzi’s gun control bill would turn 18-20-year-olds into second-class citizens by denying them their constitutionally protected right to self-defense.