Should 18 Year Olds Be Allowed To Join The Military – Gun laws and gun sales to 18-year-olds are being debated by states and courts Efforts by states to raise the minimum age for purchasing a long rifle have been challenged in court by gun rights activists.
A row of guns for sale is on display at a gun store in Aurora, Colo., on July 20, 2012. The mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., has raised questions about the effectiveness of “red flag laws” passed in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Alex Brandon/AP hide caption
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Should 18 Year Olds Be Allowed To Join The Military
A row of guns for sale is on display at a gun store in Aurora, Colo., on July 20, 2012. The mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., has raised questions about the effectiveness of “red flag laws” passed in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
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The mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y. last Saturday renewed the debate on the minimum age for the legal purchase of what some people – like President Biden, call “weapons of war”.
An 18-year-old man is accused of driving into a supermarket and targeting African Americans as he opened fire, killing 10 people. He is charged with first-degree murder in a shooting that authorities describe as racially motivated domestic terrorism.
Police said he used a semi-automatic rifle called a Bushmaster XM-15, which he bought legally at a licensed gun shop, after passing a background check.
In a statement investigators believe the 18-year-old wrote and posted online, he says he modified the rifle in ways that make it illegal according to New York’s definition of “weapons of the attack”.
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New York Governor Kathy Hochul vowed on Wednesday to address domestic terrorism and gun violence by establishing a new state law enforcement unit focused on domestic terrorism, among other steps.
In the past few years, California, Florida and Washington state have responded to the spate of mass shootings by young men by raising the minimum age to purchase certain types of rifles, such as the Bushmaster.
Last week, a panel of three federal judges in California agreed, overturning the higher minimum age approved by the state last year.
“There’s a big fight going on over these gun restrictions for 18, 19 and 20-year-olds because the courts are in the middle of a huge expansion of Second Amendment gun rights,” says Adam Winkler, a UCLA law professor who writes about gun policy.
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The author of the California law, state Senator Anthony Portantino, says he hopes the state attorney general will appeal the federal decision.
“It makes sense to appeal. This is a fight worth fighting, and again, look at what happened in Buffalo,” he says. “You have to be 25 to rent a car. You have to be 21 to drink. Why would we put a semi-automatic rifle in the hands of a young man?
“I would like to point out that drinking and driving is not constitutionally protected,” says Evan Jones, a Texas gun enthusiast who just turned 22.
“Young people from eighteen to 21 years, they all have the same rights and responsibilities as any other adult. And it is not fair that one is chosen and deprives them of one right,” he says.
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Historically, courts have limited these rights. “The threshold test is what’s called ‘strict scrutiny,'” says Jeffrey Fagan, a law professor at Columbia University who specializes in gun laws. “There must be a compelling governmental interest to limit the right.”
“We know from many studies on motor vehicle and drinking and other types of common injuries that this age group is still developing its frontal lobe, impulse control, judgment,” says Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and academic dean at the School of the Public. Health at Brown University.
Gun rights advocates, on the other hand, say that brain science arguments do not justify removing the right to armed self-defense from an entire age group.
Matt Larosiere is with the Firearms Policy Coalition, which led the challenge to the California law. He says it’s bad enough that federal law prohibits adults under 21 from buying handguns from licensed dealers; he says it’s worse when states ban that same age group from buying rifles and other long guns.
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“States pass these gun bans 18-to-21, and it completely eliminates the ability of young adults of the mechanism to defend themselves,” he says. And, he argues that young adults may actually rely on that right more than older people.
“There are a lot of young adults in America who are often lower income, or otherwise disadvantaged, not just financially,” says Larosiere. “And those are the same people who are most likely to be violently victimized, and the people who are most likely to need an effective mechanism to protect themselves,”
This legal tension has yet to be resolved. Just last year, a federal judge upheld Florida’s new age-based law restricting gun sales — but also called this age question “no man’s land constitutional.”
We can get more clarity on this from a pending Supreme Court case on gun control in New York. That case also weighs individual rights against societal risk, and if the ruling is broad enough, legal experts say it could tell us how the new conservative majority might come down on an idea that limits gun rights by age. If we want our kids to have a shot at making it in the world as 18-year-olds, without the umbilical cord of a cell phone, they’re going to need a set of basic life skills.
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Based on my observations as a dean, and the advice of parents and educators across the country, here are some examples of practical things they need to know how to do before going to college — and here are crutches that are currently preventing them from getting up on their feet:
1. An 18-year-old must be able to talk to strangers — faculty, deans, counselors, owners, store clerks, human resource managers, colleagues, bank tellers, health care providers , bus drivers, mechanics—in the real world.
The crutch: We teach children not to talk to strangers instead of teaching them the more nuanced skill of distinguishing the few bad strangers from the good ones. Therefore, children end up not knowing how to approach strangers – respectfully and with eye contact – for the help, guidance and direction they will need in the world.
2. An 18-year-old must be able to find his way around campus, the city in which his summer internship is located, or the city where he is working or studying abroad.
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The crutch: We drive or accompany our children everywhere, even when a bus, their bike, or their own feet can get them there; therefore, children do not know the route to get from here to there, how to cope with transport options and snafus, when and how to fill the car with gas, or how to make and execute transport plans.
The crutch: We remind the children when their homework is due and when they do it—sometimes we help them do it, sometimes they do it for them; therefore, children do not know how to prioritize tasks, manage workload, or meet deadlines, without regular reminders.
The crutch: We don’t ask them to help a lot around the house because the checklisted childhood leaves little time in the day for anything other than academic and extracurricular work; therefore, children do not know how to take care of their own needs, respect the needs of others, or do their fair share for the good of the whole.
The crutch: We step in to resolve misunderstandings and reduce hurt feelings for them; therefore, children do not know how to cope and resolve conflicts without our intervention.
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6. An 18-year-old must be able to cope with the ups and downs of courses and workloads, college-level work, competition, tough teachers, bosses, and more.
The crutch: We step in when things get difficult, complete the task, extend the deadline, and talk to the adults; therefore, children do not know that in the normal course of life things will not always go their way, and that they will be OK regardless.
The crutch: They don’t have part-time jobs; receive money from us for what they want or need; therefore, children do not develop a sense of responsibility for completing work tasks, responsibility to a boss who inherently dislikes them, or an appreciation for the cost of things and how to manage money.
The crutch: We paved all their way for them and avoided all disadvantages or stopped all obstacles for them; therefore, children do not develop the wise understanding that success only comes after trying and failing and trying again (aka “grit”) or the thick skin (aka “resilience”) that comes from when things have gone wrong.
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Remember: Our children should be able to do all these things without resorting to calling a parent on the phone. If they are calling us to ask how, they don’t have the life skill.
Julie Lythcot-Haims is the former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University and the author of “How to Raise an Adult.” JAMESBURG, N.J. — Stuart Goldstein still has the red and white bumper stickers and other artifacts from 1969, when he helped. persuade New Jersey legislators that 18-year-olds should be able to vote.
He was 18 years old then, working with two others
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