Rittenhouse case underscores why age floor of 21 is needed for guns nationwide

Common sense dictates that if youths under age 21 are not deemed to have adequate mental development to responsibly drink alcohol, they also should not be trusted to possess guns that can be fired on a whim and kill instantly.

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Editorials

November 16, 2021 - 9:30 AM

A screen grab from a YouTube video shows Kyle Rittenhouse on the night of Aug. 25, 2020 walking along a street in Kenosha, Wis.

Since 1984, the nationwide legal drinking age has been 21 for good reasons. Young people’s brains are still developing, which affects their judgment and cognitive abilities. That, along with raging hormones, boosts the chances of impulsive decision-making. It’s a dumb idea to add alcohol to an already unstable mix. It makes even less sense to add firearms to that unstable mix. Perhaps it’s time to start applying the same age restrictions on firearms that federal law places on alcohol.

The Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Wisconsin underscores what happens when a fully loaded, semi-automatic firearm is placed in the hands of an impulsive kid. Video of Rittenhouse, who was 17 during 2020 riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, depicts someone who clearly was thinking like a kid when he violated a curfew, misrepresented himself, lied about his age, and self-deployed with an AR-15 assault rifle with a chambered round and at least 29 more rounds in the magazine.

Rittenhouse testified that he chose the AR-15 not because it provided better protection or was better at skeet shooting or hunting but because it “looked cool.”

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