A gun is like a toothbrush. It is a tool necessary to complete a task. Much like if we were rewriting the U.S. Constitution today no one would think of including a specific amendment to guarantee the right to keep and bear toothbrushes, as that would be an obvious right, the Founding Fathers didn’t dream that keeping and bearing arms would be a matter of controversy. Just about everybody owned one.
That’s why, as I have long maintained, the Second Amendment is not what gives Americans the right to keep and bear arms; it only reaffirms an inherent right. The Second Amendment is about establishing a militia. If it was repealed tomorrow, the right of individuals to keep and bear arms would not go away.
Nonetheless, like any other right, there are limitations to it. Anyone who insists that owning and possessing weapons is an absolute right sits in stunned silence when that argument is instantaneously disproven when addressing the scenario of a bank robber apprehended after a shootout with the cops: as he’s being led to jail, he’s not allowed to keep his gun.
But there are other limitations to arms too, and there should be even more.
An impediment to more sensible gun laws, and enforcement thereof, is the continuing toxic love affair so many Americans have with guns. Again, they’re like toothbrushes, but people don’t walk around flaunting toothbrushes, displaying them in cases, joining toothbrush clubs, or wearing t-shirts that glorify them.
For many Americans, guns go beyond hunting or self-protection; they are the very essence of their identity.
Moreover, many Americans believe that guns are the only thing keeping the government from imposing tyranny on them. They think Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer – and maybe even some Republicans – lay awake at night twirling their villain mustaches and thinking: “if somehow we could take their guns, we could impose absolute control on the masses!” Nothing like a little media hype to fuel that paranoia.
Mass shootings have become a regular part of life now. Much like individual murders, they’re no longer rare tragedies. Unfortunately, many have given up hope that our government is willing to do anything about solving the problem. The debate about whether the focus ought to be on mental health instead of gun control is suffocating in its redundancy and aimlessness.
But there’s a better solution, one that is simple, bold, coarse, and very imperfect. It will hurt a lot of feelings, but, like sticks, stones, and guns, it won’t break your bones. Here it is: you can’t buy a gun until you’re 27.
As simple as that sounds, it’s bound to be met by all sorts of resistance. Pessimists will howl that it will merely expand the black market and those too young will simply obtain their guns illegally. Others will clamor that it’s a slippery slope, and soon enough 27 will become 37 and then 47, until our despotic government has finally confiscated all our guns.
Nonetheless, this proposal would do a lot of good and won’t be too hard to pass into law.
First, the vast majority of responsible citizens who own guns legally are 27 or older, so they won’t be affected. Second, a strong demographic of the prototypical mass shooter is that he (they’re overwhelmingly male) is under 27. That means, they’re immediate “not in my backyard” reflex would be: “it’s got nothing to do with me, I’m already over 27 and I’ll never be under 27 again, so it will never affect me. Who cares?”
There would be exceptions for those joining the military or law enforcement, and kids can still go hunting as long as they’re supervised by their adult (27 or older) parents.
Another likely question would be, why age 27 specifically? The same can be asked about any age minimum, because surely there plenty of individuals too young to do something legally who are far more responsible than those above the age minimum. For instance, we can easily point to a specific 17-year-old we think would use alcohol more responsibly than a particular 40-year-old.
The reason I settled on 27 is because I’ve noticed that people tend to mature considerably in their twenties. Kids and teens can’t wait to turn 21, but then the appeal of becoming a year older is over. When they’re 25, they bemoan: “oh my goodness, I’m a quarter of a century old!” So at 27, with the “big 3-0” just around the corner, they tend to sow their wild oats and settle down.
Surely there are mentally ill and/or criminally violent people well over 27, and gun-related deaths won’t magically disappear. But the type of madness our nation is going through now can’t be tweaked away. We need a shock to our system, and raising the minimum age to purchase and possess a gun to 27 will shake us at our core.
There have been many bold decisions throughout U.S. history that were met with intense resistance and hostility: the Indian Removal Act, the Civil War, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the pardoning of Richard Nixon, and others. These acts were painful and far from perfect, but when the smoke cleared, the larger underlying problem had ended.
Finally, this is just one initiative that needs to include many others, including extremely punitive measures for anyone connected to violating the age minimum.
Now it’s up to both major parties to make true sacrifices. They need to get over their fear of losing the next election and instead do what’s right for their country.