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GOP Rep. Calls for Raising Gun-Purchase Age to 21 in Response to Mass Shootings

Rep. Adam Kinzinger holds up his phone during a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, April 11, 2018. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Representative Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) on Monday advocated for federal legislation that would ban the sale of firearms to Americans under the age of 21 in response to the mass shootings that claimed 31 lives over the weekend.

Kinzinger, who has a 93 percent lifetime rating from the National Rifle Association, argued in a Medium post published Monday that a minimum firearm-purchase age of 21 would interrupt the alarming trend of mass shootings in the U.S., and would be particularly effective in preempting school shootings.

“Particularly in school shootings, the assassins are often enrolled in the school, recently graduated, or expelled,” he writes. “In some cases, a grudge is carried out with legally purchased weapons. An adolescent, high school fueled grudge is much less likely to survive over the three years between the end of high school and the time of legal age of purchase.”

Federal law already prohibits the selling of handguns to individuals under the age of 21. Kinzinger argued that this prohibition should be extended to semi-automatic rifles, with “exceptions for some shotguns for hunting purposes.” Americans under the age of 21 who carry a firearm as part of their job as a police officer or member of the military would still be permitted to do so under Kinzinger’s preferred legislation.

In his post, Kinzinger went on to voice support for legislation that would require a criminal-background check prior to the purchase of all firearms, including those sold by a private dealer. He also endorsed the “red flag” legislation that President Trump called for on Monday, which would empower the authorities to temporarily disarm individuals who friends and family have reported are a potential danger to themselves or others.

At least 22 people were killed when a 21-year-old man opened fire in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas on Saturday. In a similar incident hours later, another nine people were killed by a 24-year-old man in Dayton, Ohio. The suspect in the El Paso shooting was taken into custody while the Dayton shooter was killed by police on the scene.

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