At 18 years old, the teenager’s prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain which regulates impulse control, is about halfway developed. That means that until you are about 25, you are more likely to make rash decisions with limited knowledge. But you are considered an adult at eighteen and given even more privileges at twenty-one.
So why, if your brain isn’t fully developed, do 31 percent of kids in high school or younger in the United States say they own a gun, according to Pew Research Center? Also, the legal age to buy an assault rifle, like the one used by Nikolas Cruz in the recent Parkland, Florida shooting, is eighteen. Why are we allowing people whose impulse control is not fully developed to own a weapon that can kill someone in less than a second?
“Ideally, I think it should have a lot less to do with age and it should be more difficult to get a gun in general- including stricter background checks,” said freshman Norah Geiger.
Geiger feels that buying a gun is too easy, and that the government officials should put harder restrictions on the process of buying guns.
“Maybe having time limits, rather than allowing people to buy in bulk,” Geiger said, “I don’t think there’s any reason, even without malicious intent, for someone to have that many firearms, especially at once.”
Age isn’t the only thing messed up about how we can purchase guns. Unless a person is legally stated to be mentally ill or committed to a psychiatric ward, there is no question of one’s mental stability. There is no psychological evaluation, no law requiring someone to see a phyciatrist before buying a gun. You need to be able to see to get your driver’s licence, but you don’t need to be able to think to buy a gun.
“I think it’s important you know how to deal with your weapon,” added Geiger, “Because of of how much power it has. It is a machine made to kill, so evaluations of reflexes in your hands and skill, so that people aren’t accidentally hurt makes sense.”
Many gun supporters use the analogy of cars to justify guns, saying that cars kill people, but we don’t take them off the streets. This is true, but we have so many more regulations on cars than guns, to make them more safe, and to protect people. For example, drivers training, a sight test, and many other things provide a safer condition for all drivers. Also, a car’s primary purpose is not to kill, but to transport people. A guns primary purpose to kill.
With few regulations, guns are too easy to buy. It’s too easy for a mentally ill person or an angry teenager to get a gun. And this is the legal way, not mentioning all the ways to get a gun illegally. Some pro-gun supporters like the NRA oppose taking precautions like this, but is it really such an invasions of our rights to add these laws so our schools, our kids, and our families are more protected?
If we add more precautions to make getting guns harder, people will be be able to get a gun, but people who mean to do harm will be more likely to be stopped. There should be more age restrictions and a harder background check before being able to buy a gun. So gun supporters who say they need guns for self-defense against bad people who have guns, won’t need to use them so liberally.
“I think it’s horrifying.” Geiger said, “the way gun culture has influenced us, even as little kids with toy guns, before one can even comprehend death is awful.”
Now, adding precautions like a longer waiting period, more mental exams and a higher age limit to our gun laws isn’t the entire solution to this problem, but it would be a good first step on the path to a safer America, and to safer schools.