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'Age Has To Be Talked About': Examining Minnesota's Firearm Age Requirements

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Guns are now the leading cause of death for children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And it's not just community shootings, it's suicides, too. So how old do you have to be to purchase guns in Minnesota, and should that age be looked at?

When it comes to getting a driver's license, drinking alcohol, enlisting in the military, or even renting a car in this country, age is a factor.

And it's no different for buying a gun.

"You have to be 18 years old unless it's a handgun, then you have to be 21 years old, and that's federal law," said Rob Doar, vice president of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus.

You need the right permit to purchase handguns and semi-automatic weapons. There are varying rules and supervision levels for people under 18 to possess or handle guns.

But are those current ages the right ones?

"I'm not an arbiter of the laws, and I don't want to be," said Libby Holden, co-lead of the Minneapolis group Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America. "What I do want is to be able to raise my children in a safe community."

"I think we're always going to have difficulties when we decide that your rights begin at 18 except for fill-in-the-blank," Doar said.

"I think, yeah, age has to be talked about, but it's also the other factors," said Rashmi Seneviratne, executive director of Protect Minnesota.

Other factors to consider, according to activists, are safe storage of weapons and mental health support.

But one age-related point did come up in all of our interviews.

"Science proves that peoples' brains aren't formed until they're 25," Seneviratne said.

"There's a lot of information coming out that shows that brain development isn't done until the early 20s, and things like that, I think, that's a valid conversation," Doar said.

It's fueling ongoing conversations to keep everyone safe moving forward.

A new report from the FBI shows more than half of the active shooters in 2021 were males 34 and younger. Some DFL legislators want to see gun control measures in any possible special session.

Some GOP house members mentioned Thursday at the capitol the need to address mental health concerns.


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