MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — In the wake of a deadly shooting at a Florida high school, an Alabama lawmaker on Thursday proposed to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 or similar weapon from 18 to 21.
Rep. Juandalynn Givan, a Democrat from Birmingham, said teenagers should not be able to purchase such deadly weapons.
A teenager killed 17 people in a Florida school last week after purchasing an AR-15.
“To me it’s inconceivable that someone could purchase an assault weapon anywhere in this country at age 18 but can’t purchase a handgun in most places until you’re 21 years of age,” Givan said Thursday.
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“If the legal age to drink is 21, then why not make the legal age to purchase a gun 21? I’m talking about an assault weapon, an AR-15 assault weapon that was used last week to kill 17 innocent victims at a school.”
Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who had been expelled from the school, is accused of killing 17 people at his former high school with an AR-15 he legally purchased.
President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to endorse a higher minimum age for buying certain rifles and tighter background checks for purchasers in response to the shooting.
Givan, a Democrat, appeared to get tentative support on Thursday from some leaders in the Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said he was unfamiliar with the details of Givan’s bill, but believed state lawmakers should discuss it.
“It’s only to me commonsense that people have to be deemed mature to do certain things. We do that on alcohol and cigarettes and other things. Obviously, assault weapons should be one of them,” Marsh said.
Another bill introduced in response to the Florida shooting would allow teachers to carry handguns in school if they underwent law enforcement training.
Marsh said the state lawmakers need to have a full discussion about the proposals.
However, Marsh said he doubted either could win final approval before lawmakers conclude the session in about a month.
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, a former law enforcement officer, also hadn’t read the bill yet Thursday but said that mental capacity for people purchasing guns under 18 is a concern.
“Carrying and using a firearm is one of those things and behaviors, you have to be a very responsible person,” he said.
McCutcheon said the bill would be up for debate in committee next week.