Letter: How about age limits on handguns, assault rifles? | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: How about age limits on handguns, assault rifles?

I was a district attorney for 35 years, with 33 of them for Jefferson and Gilpin counties. I prosecuted the cases related to the Columbine massacre, convicting and sentencing to prison the adults who illegally supplied the killers with an assault pistol and ammunition, and I tried the Deer Creek Middle School shooting, where a mentally ill man shot two students with a hunting rifle before being subdued by a brave teacher. Over the years, I have spoken frequently about school shootings.

One factor that should be seriously considered in this discussion about school and mass shootings is the age of gun ownership. The statistics demonstrate that the median age of school shooters is 16 years and about one quarter of all mass shooters are under 25.

The age of the killer in Uvalde was 18. The recent shooting in Buffalo: 18. Stoneman Douglas Highshcool: 19. Sandy Hook: 20. Columbine: 17 and 18.

However, most states, including Colorado, permit all gun ownership and possession at 18 years of age, and some states like Texas have no minimum. Incredibly, federal law prohibits the sale of handguns by federally licensed gun dealers to 21 years of age, but allows the purchase of assault rifles, like the AR-15 used in the Uvalde massacre, by a person who is 18 years or older.

Throughout the United States, you cannot drink a beer until you are 21 years old. But in Colorado and in many other states you can legally possess a handgun, or even an assault rifle, at 18 years of age. I personally would be less concerned with an 18-year-old drinking a beer than his possession of an assault rifle. Isn’t it time that we consider raising the age limits on the possession of handguns and/or assault rifles, even if we do nothing else?

Steven L. Jensen

Steamboat Springs

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