It is a disturbing reality that in many states in the United States, there are limited no age restrictions in place to prevent young individuals from acquiring certain types of guns or from shooting at gun ranges. This lack of regulation poses a significant danger to both the youth and society as a whole, which is reflective of most of the States in America having a failing grade for gun restrictions.
According to KKF the youth gun violence rate in America vastly exceeds that of any other developed nation. “Combined, the eleven other peer countries account for only 153 of the total 4,510 firearm deaths for children ages 1-19 years in these nations in 2020, and the U.S. accounts for the remainder.”
A study by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence found that in 2021, American children and teens aged 0-17 were 25 times more likely to be killed by guns than their peers in other high-income countries.
In addition, the study found that:
- Black children and teens were disproportionately affected by gun violence, with a rate of firearm homicide that was 14.5 times higher than that of white children and teens.
- Boys were more likely to be victims of gun violence than girls, with a rate that was nearly 3 times higher.
- The majority of child and teen gun deaths occurred in states with weak gun laws.
It is important to note that these statistics are based on the data available till 2021 and may not reflect the current situation and can change over time. Also, there might be some changes in the data collection methods and processes, which can affect the accuracy of the data.
One of the main concerns with allowing young individuals to access firearms is the increased risk of accidents and serious injuries or death. Children and teenagers are still in the process of developing cognitively and emotionally, which can make them less capable of making responsible decisions when it comes to handling firearms. They may not fully understand the consequences of their actions or the potential dangers of using a gun. Additionally, young individuals may be more likely to engage in risky or reckless behaviour when handling firearms.
Furthermore, allowing young individuals to access firearms can also contribute to the problem of gun violence in the United States. Research has shown that individuals who have access to firearms at a young age are more likely to be involved in gun-related violence later in life. This is particularly concerning when considering the fact that young individuals are more likely to be impulsive and less able to control their emotions, which can increase the risk of violent behaviour.
Another concern is the potential for young individuals to use firearms for suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth in the United States, and firearms are the most common method used. Allowing young individuals to access firearms makes it easier for them to take their own lives and the consequences can be irreversible.
In addition to the risks to young individuals themselves, allowing them to access firearms also poses a danger to society as a whole. Young individuals who have access to firearms may be more likely to engage in criminal behaviour or to be involved in accidents that can harm others. This can create a cycle of violence and crime that can be difficult to break.
It’s important to note that there are also benefits to youth participation in shooting sports, such as hunting and marksmanship, but it should be done under proper adult supervision. Many organizations, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA), offer youth programs that teach gun safety and provide opportunities for young individuals to learn about and participate in shooting sports in a safe and responsible manner. That being said, the NRA is vehemently against having the U.S. Congress pass strong and reasonable gun laws and is among the major donors to political parties. The organization has been an impediment to sensible gun reform in America.
Given the significant dangers associated with allowing young individuals to access firearms, it is crucial that states take action to impose age restrictions on the acquisition of all types of guns and restrict youths from shooting at gun ranges. This can include measures such as raising the minimum age for purchasing firearms to 18 years of age and implementing stricter background check requirements for everyone. These steps can help to reduce the risks associated with allowing young individuals to access firearms and can help to keep both young individuals and society as a whole safer.