Colorado is the latest US state to raise the age limit of owning a gun to  21, making it harder for anyone to take up the shooting sports – including harder than in other English speaking countries. 

What’s in a number?

WHENEVER GUN LAWS come up in debate outside the US, comparison is made with shootings there.

Part of the problem is that this analysis ignores the availability of freedoms that other ‘free’ countries simply don’t have (with the pros and cons that come with it) and the significantly larger population that other English speaking countries.

This can easily distort the value of any comparison.

However shootings do occur, and like every other corner of the community there is criminal conduct that needs to be addressed.

Even Japan, where legal ownership of firearm is nearly impossible, is not exempt from gun crime, as we saw with the assassination of former prime minister, Shinzo Abe. Other shootings in ‘gun free’ Japan include those at Sasebo, Aki, Habikino, Gifu military facility, Nagano, Tsuyama, Umekawa, Zama and Shibuya.

There is a common belief that you can get what you want in the US, in any state.

As any educated person knows, that isn’t true. 

We have long seen how some states have pushed the boundaries on what they can do, even limiting ammunition sales in California.

Now we are seeing  some US states raise the legal age of owning a firearm from 18 to 21. 

Yet in New Zealand, guns can be owned from 16, and it’s 18 pretty much everywhere else.

Colorado’s new 21 age limit

According to Charles Ashby of gjsentinel.com, the new age limit in Colorado was proposed to “help protect children from harm”.

Colorado’s senator, Kyle Mullica

The article quotes Democrat senator, Kyle Mullica as saying that gun deaths in Colorado has been “climbing higher and higher every year” – which, without providing any statistics, is a convenient argument to run.

Other Colorado politicians say that the measure will “reduce senseless gun violence and make our communities safer”.

What is particularly telling though, is that the articles state that the Democrats cited research by a “pro-gun law group” called Everytown for Gun Safety.

Information on the group is hard to find, however it would appear to have been founded by Michael Bloomberg, whose personal support for anti-gun groups is well known.

In other words, the law is probably not driven by deaths “climbing higher and higher every year” without citing any statistics, but politics.

HOWEVER, all is not lost in Colorado.

One positive aspect of the fight by pro-gun groups in the US is their ability to launch legal fights.

This compares markedly with groups in other countries who are simply too cash poor to be able to do that – which is probably a ‘lesson’ for the rest of us.

A local Colorado group called Rocky Mountain Gun Owners has challenged the constitutionality of the Colorado law.

Michael Karlik of Colorado Politics has reported:

“A federal judge on Monday granted the request of two Colorado residents to block a new Colorado law generally raising the age limit for purchasing firearms to 21.”

A fractured system

The move in Colorado follows some other states which goes against the federal Gun Control Act of 1968.

THAT ACT allows longarms to be sold to individuals 18 years older but several states have clearly decided to head in different directions.

It is probably no coincidence that the federal act limits handgun ownership to those 21 or older, which is the age that some states are aiming for longarm ownership.

While this may please some, it is in no-one’s interest to create a patchwork of variations that will make it harder and harder for shooters to do what they do.

In fact even ages to obtain drivers’ permits and licences vary wildly in the US, from 14 in Arkansas to 18 elsewhere.

Not only that, but the more fracturing there is on gun laws, the less there can be any rational, uniform approach to gun crime. As the US saw with bootlegging, those who will never comply with the law, will always exploit near sighted politics.

US’s patchwork

According to an article written by Shirin Ali of Changing America:

  • Alaska has lowered the age for possessing some firearms to 16 while Louisiana is at 17.
  • Texas, Wyoming, Ohio, New Hampshire, Montana and Maine have no age restrictions;
  • Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Washington and the District of Columbia impose a minimum age requirement of 21; and
  • Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky and others continue to respect the federal system of allowing longarm ownership at 18.

It’s early days yet, so we are yet to see how this pans out, but its possible the Democrats might not get everything their way…

The stats

The claim in Colorado that gun deaths are “climbing higher and higher every year” is interesting because the article by Ali states more than 4,300 individuals ages 1 to 19 died across the country as a result of firearms in 2020.

As Colorado has less than 2% of the US population in its state, it raises some very real questions of what is happening in the Bloomberg backed state that is contributing to that tally? What is so different about that state? Is it the legal retail sale of marijuana or is there some other factor?

Or is it pure politics?

According to an article written by Shirin Ali of Changing America:

  • Alaska has lowered the age for possessing some firearms to 16 while Louisiana is at 17.
  • Texas, Wyoming, Ohio, New Hampshire, Montana and Maine have no age restrictions;
  • Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Washington and the District of Columbia impose a minimum age requirement of 21; and
  • Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky and others continue to respect the federal system of allowing longarm ownership at 18

It’s early days yet, so we are yet to see how this pans out, but its possible the Democrats might not get everything their way…

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