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Teenage killers and mass shootings: why an assault rifle in the US can be bought before a bottle of beer

Americans are allowed to buy alcohol when they turn 21. But in most states, the military-style AR-15 assault rifle can be purchased from the age of 18. How it happened and whether something needs to be done about it, the publication said. The Guardian.

Photo: Shutterstock

Federal law imposes stricter age requirements for the purchase of handguns than for military-style rifles, but they have become the main weapon during mass shootings in recent times. With few exceptions, Americans must be 21 years of age or older to purchase a handgun from a licensed dealer.

But the age limit is lower for long rifles, a category that includes traditional hunting rifles, shotguns, and military rifles that are legally classified as "assault weapons." When the federal assault weapon ban expired in 2004, only seven states and the District of Columbia still had a ban on such firearms.

“It is absolutely amazing that a young person who is not legally allowed to buy alcohol can simply walk into a gun shop and, subject to a background check, buy a very powerful and in some cases military weapon,” said Lindsey Nichols, director Giffords Law Center Federal Policy for the Prevention of Gun Violence.

Nichols said laws making it easier to buy long guns were developed at a time when military-style rifles were much less popular and when teenagers were most likely to buy long guns for hunting.

“This is one of many cases where our gun laws are outdated and we need reform,” she said.

Massad Ayub, a firearms expert, instructor and writer, disagreed.

“I don’t think age has anything to do with it,” he said. “Would the shootouts have been less deadly if the shooter had been 22?”

On the subject: What an AR-15 rifle bullet can do to a human body?

“At 18, a person is old enough to enlist in the armed forces, fight and die for their nation. He is old enough to marry without the permission of his parents, the expert noted. “In the past, in many states, 18 years old was enough to buy a beer.”

Young shooters who legally owned guns

Only recently, several mass executions have already been committed, where the shooters were under 21 years old.

Shooting in Buffalo

May 14 near the Tops Friendly supermarket in Buffalo (New York) 18-year-old Payton Gendron opened fire. As it turned out, he was a white supremacist. Of the 13 victims, 11 were black.

Upstate New York gun shop owner Robert Donald claimed he was the one who recently sold the assault weapons to Payton.

During the mass shooting, Gendron used a Bushmaster XM-15 rifle. Donald said that he did not remember the details of the sale of weapons to a teenager due to the large number of customers in the store. But after the shooting, at the request of law enforcement officers, he raised all the documents related to this deal.

According to Donald, the store tested Gendron as required by New York state gun sales regulations, but the inspection did not reveal any red flags.

Donald said he rarely sells Bushmaster XM-15 assault rifles and specializes in vintage handguns. Gendron modified the rifle to make it more lethal. To do this, the guy used illegal parts. Donald assured that at the time of the sale, the weapons were in accordance with the law.

“Any weapon can be easily modified if you really want to,” summed up the gun shop owner.

Texas Shooting

On May 24 in Texas, 19 schoolchildren and two adults died as a result of shooting at robb elementary school.

The shooter opened fire on the building of a school where children aged 7 to 10 study. 18-year-old shooter Salvador Ramos attended high school in Yuvalda, where he would graduate on May 27. Law enforcement officials said he acted alone.

The shooter legally purchased at least two assault rifles shortly after his 18th birthday. The suspect was in possession of a handgun, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and high-capacity magazines, investigators said.

Shooter from Parkland

On February 14, 2018, one of the deadliest shootings in US history took place.

19-year-old Nicholas Cruz planned a mass shooting at a school. He killed 17 people.

However, Cruz had several firearms, including an AR-15 and two other rifles. He was a hunter, wielding knives, pistols and several types of weapons used for hunting.

The family that Cruz lived with after his mother's death revealed that he had some strange eating habits. He added chocolate chip cookies to his steak and cheese sandwich.

Snedy assumed that in school over Cruise scoffed: he was such a child who would have attracted the attention of a bully.

According to them, he really wanted to meet a girl, he seemed very lonely. There was a rumor that the guy broke up with his girlfriend and pursued her.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York

The Sneds did not notice signs of animal cruelty on his part. They love animals, two dogs and six cats live in their house, so they would kick the guy out if he treated their pets badly. They thought Cruz liked their animals.

Changes in laws

Raising the drinking age to 21 has helped save lives, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). States that raised the drinking age to 21 saw a 16% decrease in car accidents.

While AR-15 type rifles have become the weapons of choice for some of America's most recent and deadly mass shootings, military pistols are still comparatively rarely used in everyday gun violence.

Between 2010 and 2014, only 3,55% of gun homicides were committed with any type of rifle, according to an analysis of FBI data by The Guardian. Most gun homicides are still committed with handguns.

The introduction of tighter restrictions on the purchase of firearms does affect street crime, as its level is directly related to firearm ownership. But most often it is with the possession of pistols. Therefore, initially the laws were directed specifically at them, since it was assumed that rifles and long-barreled weapons would not be used in crimes.

There are even fewer restrictions on owning long guns than there are on buying them. Twenty-eight states have no minimum age limit for gun ownership, according to the Giffords Law Center for Gun Violence Prevention, which monitors state gun laws. Four states have a minimum age for owning a rifle or shotgun between 28 and 14. Florida requires raising the age to 16 for owning long guns.

Although changing the age limit for buying or owning guns has not been an active issue at the state level in recent years, Nichols observed, “A tightening age limit for buying guns would be a simple decision that could have a relatively significant impact on some types of gun violence. ".

Demand for weapons continues

The US is in the midst of a great arms buying boom that is not going to subside. The annual number of firearms manufactured has almost tripled since 2000 and has risen sharply in the past three years, according to the first comprehensive federal gun trade count in two decades. The New York Times.

The data documented a dramatic change in consumer demand among gun owners that had major commercial, cultural and political implications: since 2009, Glock-type semi-automatic handguns purchased for personal defense have outsold rifles.

The 306-page document included another statistic that is of particular concern to law enforcement officials.

On the subject: Almost half of Americans live in homes with guns: this proportion has grown during the pandemic

In 2021, police found 19 privately-made firearms, improvised weapons that cannot be traced, known as "ghost weapons", ten times more than in 344. Such "ghosts" account for almost half of the weapons found at crime scenes.

The data showed that the industry is on the rise, with annual domestic arms production rising from 3,9 million in 2000 to 11,3 million in 2020. A relatively small percentage of domestically produced weapons are exported abroad, so these numbers accurately reflect growth.

There are currently about 400 million guns in the United States, according to a 2018 survey.

Since the expiration of the 2004 law, “production of types of semi-automatic rifles and pistols formerly considered assault weapons has grown steadily, especially AR-type rifles and pistols now commonly referred to as ‘modern sporting rifles’,” the authors of the report found.

The report states that the handgun market is dominated by two manufacturers. Smith & Wesson accounted for 8,2 million rifles produced from 2016 to 2020, accounting for 17 percent of the total market, while Sturm, Ruger & Company were slightly behind with nearly identical sales and production figures.

The data covers a 20-year period, but the charts included in the report show three intense periods. One was in 2013, after the re-election of President Barack Obama and the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which sparked calls for tougher gun regulations. The second one was in 2016. The third period began in 2019 and lasted until the 2020 elections and the COVID-19 pandemic.

During this time, the production of weapons has increased everywhere. But demand for semi-automatic pistols has grown at the fastest pace in history, with production skyrocketing from three million to 5,5 million a year.

The number of imported weapons of all types has also skyrocketed, doubling from about two million a year a decade ago to over four million in 2020.

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