Teen can buy an AR-15, but not beer

Published 8:08 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Another school massacre, more funerals, more candlelight vigils and more debate over gun rights and gun control.

What happened a week ago at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was heartbreaking and tragic and the grieving continues today as the final funerals are held for the high school students and faculty gunned down by a former student with an AR-15.

Before I go any further, allow me to explain that I am not against the Second Amendment. I believe Americans have the legal right to own and possess guns. But I believe purchasing and having those guns comes with a great deal of responsibility and certain types of weapons should only be possessed by law enforcement or the military.

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It has been reported the 19-year-old gunman purchased the weapon legally. The legal background checks were performed when he purchased the gun. The gun purchase was made legally, but should a teenager be allowed to buy such a weapon?

We have laws in this country for the legal age to drive a vehicle, to vote and drink alcohol, but very few for legally purchasing a firearm.

I know a lot of kids who grew up learning the proper way to use a firearm and the responsibility that comes with it. Most learned from their father and grandfather to shoot while hunting. Most of those weapons used for hunting rabbits, squirrel and deer are much different than a teenager going into a gun shop and buying an AR-15.

I believe it is time that some gun restrictions are placed on the purchase of assault-style weapons, namely an age restriction. If a 19-year-old can’t legally buy beer, they shouldn’t be legally allowed to purchase an assault weapon unless they are in a branch of military service.

While there are handgun laws, 28 states have no minimum age requirement for owning a rifle or shotgun, including Mississippi.

The Republican controlled Florida legislature is expected to take up legislation that includes raising the age to purchase any firearm to 21, creating a waiting period for purchasing any type of firearm, banning bump stocks that can allow semi-automatic guns to spray bullets quickly and creating gun-violence restraining orders.

I agree that an age restriction will not solve the issue of someone determined to cause a mass shooting like the one last week, or in Las Vegas and in a church in Texas last year. Evil people do evil things and some people with mental illness are capable of doing unthinkable acts. But we need to start some place.

I also don’t believe it’s a good idea to ask our teachers to become adequately trained and arm themselves to protect our children, but I do believe schools should increase their budgets to hire more school resource officers. There are not enough measures in the world to protect students from such mayhem.

Rob Sigler is editor of The Vicksburg Post. Readers are invited to submit their opinions for publication.