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Democrats Are Trying to Jam a Terrible Gun Control Law Through Congress | Opinion

Newsweek logo Newsweek 6/2/2022 John R. Lott, Jr and Thomas Massie
The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington, DC on October 24, 2021. © DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington, DC on October 24, 2021.

Democrats are pushing legislation that will dramatically change gun ownership in the United States. Rep. Jerry Nadler's (D-NY) "Protecting Our Kids Act," which the House Judiciary Committee will hear today, will make it much more difficult for people to defend themselves from crime.

Americans are right to be skeptical of Democrats' intentions. President Joe Biden talked on Monday about banning the vast majority of handguns, and a Gallup survey of Democrats last fall found that 40% of Democrats wanted to ban all civilian-owned handguns. It seems Democrats will only be satisfied when guns have been completely banned in the U.S.

If the Democrats have their way on this legislation, otherwise-law-abiding citizens will face up to 10 years in prison for temporarily lending a gun to someone else—even for good reason.

Here are some of the terrible provisions in this bill.

Raise the Firearm Purchase Age to 21.

If Democrats successfully raise the firearm purchase age to 21, an endangered 20-year-old woman would not be old enough to buy a gun to defend herself. Research shows that having a gun is the most effective way for women to defend themselves against male attackers.

The push for a higher age limit stems from 18-year-olds committing a couple of the high-profile recent mass shootings. But of the 89 U.S. mass public shootings since 1998, higher age restrictions would have been relevant for precisely eight attacks. If the higher age restriction had been in effect since 1998, only four of the 88 attacks—4.49% of the total—could have been clearly prevented. That's also assuming the perpetrators would not have found another way of obtaining a gun, or merely used a different weapon. For instance, the perpetrators of the Columbine mass shooting enlisted an older female as a straw purchaser in order to obtain three firearms they were ineligible to purchase themselves due to their age.

If we were to ban gun purchases based on the age groups that have committed the most mass public shootings, most attacks are committed by 21- to 25-year-olds, followed by those aged 36 to 45.

Before 1994, while some states had their own age limits, there was no federal age requirement for buying a rifle. Thomas Marvell conducted the only peer-reviewed study on this change in The Journal of Law and Economics. He concluded: "Where the 1994 laws seem to have an impact, the suggestion is almost always that crime increases; thus, there is no evidence that these bans had their intended effect." Marvell found that age limits were associated with a 6% increase in firearm homicides.

"Universal Background Check"

Let's say a stalker threatens a female friend of yours. She asks you if she can borrow your handgun. She is trained and has no criminal record. Should you loan her your gun? If the Democrats' gun control bill becomes law, loaning her your gun could land you in prison for up to 10 years, plus fines. The only exception would be for family members. Even annual Boy Scout shooting trips would have legal ramifications; adults who lend military members their guns might soon find themselves in prison.

Democrats can't point to a single mass public shooting this century that would have been prevented by federally mandated universal background checks. Even ardent gun control proponent Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) had no response when CBS' Jon Karl asked him six years ago, "Why are we focusing on things that have nothing to do with the massacres that we are responding to?"


Cost is another factor when considering universal background checks. In Washington, D.C., where Democrats will vote on this legislation, it costs $125 to do a background check for the private transfer of a gun. These costs present a real obstacle to poor people living in high-crime urban areas. The law-abiding victims of violent crime who live in these areas may be unable to afford these costs. Criminals and gang members will most certainly not be paying these fees.

Democrats routinely claim that requiring free voter IDs imposes too much of a burden on poor minorities who want to vote. They do not see the irony, however, in requiring IDs—which aren't free, in this case—and additional fees for those who wish to exercise their Second Amendment right and purchase firearms.

Banning Homemade Guns

Americans have been making guns since before the United States was a country, and the process is becoming increasingly straightforward with the advent of 3D-printing. Some homemade guns don't have serial numbers, like those engraved on guns by licensed manufacturers.

Democrats argue that serial numbers are essential to identifying criminals and solving crime. Their reasoning is straightforward: If a gun is left at a crime scene and the criminal bought it through a licensed dealer, the gun's serial number can help trace the gun back to the criminal.

Nice logic, but realistically, it has never worked that way. Guns used to commit crime are very rarely left at the crime scene. The few that have been weren't purchased from a licensed dealer. Criminals are typically not stupid enough to leave behind a traceable gun. When a gun is left at the scene, it is usually because the criminal has been seriously injured or killed. There is no challenge in solving such crimes, even without tracing.

Even going a step further and creating a gun registry has similarly failed to solve crimes. Expensive gun registry programs from Hawaii to Chicago to New York haven't solved any crimes.


Democrats are pushing regulations that won't protect our children. While Democrats promote "soft on crime" policies, such as letting criminals out of jail and refusing to prosecute criminals, they also want to make it harder for law-abiding Americans to protect themselves. At least Democrats will have a lock on the criminal vote this November.

John R. Lott, Jr. is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author, most recently, of Gun Control Myths.

Rep. Thomas Massie represents Kentucky's Fourth Congressional District and is co-chairman of the Second Amendment Caucus.

The views expressed in this article are the writers' own.

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