AB 3 would mirror existing laws for purchasing handguns
SACRAMENTO — Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) announced legislation Thursday, March 8 to raise the age to purchase long guns such as rifles and shotguns from 18 to 21.
“California already wisely mandates that someone be at least 21 years of age to purchase a handgun,” said Bonta in a statement. “It’s time to extend that common-sense law to long guns in order to enhance public safety.”
AB 3 would bring parity to California gun laws and recognize the fact that young adults ages 18 to 20 are statistically far more likely to commit homicides than older adults. Adults 18 to 20 represent 4 percent of the population but commit 17 percent of gun homicides, according to the 2015 FBI Supplementary Homicides Reports.
“We must take every reasonable measure to protect Californians from gun violence,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), joint author of the bill. “AB 3 will do just that by raising the minimum age to buy long guns from 18 to 21.”
State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), principal co-author of AB 3 said, “Californians under age 21 can’t purchase alcohol, tobacco and other health hazardous items. So why should they be able to buy guns? Our bill fixes that.”
Advocates working to stop gun violence view AB 3 as a prudent and effective step to protect the public.
“Modern rifles pose a greater threat than handguns and a similar age restriction should apply,” said Amanda Wilcox, legislation and policy chair for the California chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and sponsor of AB 3. “Existing laws and policies already recognize that those under age 21 are more at risk of dangerous or irresponsible behavior and consequently they cannot buy alcohol or rent a car. Raising the minimum age to purchase a long gun is a reasonable step to improve public safety.”
Allison Anderman, managing attorney for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, noted that the perpetrators of Parkland and Sandy Hook shootings — considered the two worst school shootings in U.S. history — were both under 21 years old.
“Just as raising the driving age to 21 significantly reduced the rate of auto fatalities among 18 to 20-year olds, it’s time to address the unique risks guns pose when they’re in the hands of unsupervised 18 to 20-year-olds. Raising the age to purchase all firearms to 21 is an important step in this direction,” Anderman said.
Bonta added, “We must do everything we can to reduce the number of gun homicides and mass shootings. AB 3 is sound policy and will make a difference. It will help save the lives of our families, friends and community members. The time for action is now.”