Democrats to Advance Bill Raising Age Limit for Assault-Rifle Buyers

David Warren rings up customers sales next to assault rifles on display at the Ringmasters of Utah gun range and store, Springville, Utah on December 18, 2015. (George Frey/Reuters)

House Democrats are expected to introduce a bill Wednesday that would raise the minimum purchasing age for assault rifles, in one piece of a broader legislative effort to address the recent rash of mass shootings.

The bill would increase the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic rifle from 18, where it currently stands in most states, to 21, bringing it in line with the current federal minimum handgun-purchasing age, according to Politico.

Representative Anthony Brown (D., Md.), who will introduce the bill, would prefer an outright ban on assault rifles but believes that raising the minimum purchasing age is a productive step.

“I’m all about banning assault weapons,” Brown told Politico. He went on to credit President Trump as the inspiration behind the legislation, citing Trump’s call to increase the minimum purchasing age in the wake of the Parkland massacre in February.

“It doesn’t make sense that I have to wait until I’m 21 to get a handgun, but I can get this weapon at 18,” Trump told a group of congressmen in a televised meeting in March. Trump later reversed his position following pushback from conservative lawmakers and the National Rifle Association.

The Raise the Age act, and its companion bill in the Senate, are part of a broader, high-priority Democratic effort to address the scourge of recent mass shootings at schools and other public places, many of which were committed with semi-automatic rifles.

The new Democratic majority is expected to vote first on universal background-check legislation that wold require all gun buyers to undergo a federal background check, even when purchasing a gun through a private transaction.

Brown’s bill, which exempts active-duty military personnel and police officers, has received the support of Republican representatives Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Peter King of New York, and Brian Mast of Florida. Brown hopes it will be brought to the floor for a vote sometime this summer.

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