U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger advocated Monday to raise the age to buy a firearm to 21, to require universal background checks for gun purchases, to ban certain high-capacity magazines and for states to adopt “red flag laws” that place protective orders on those with mental issues.
These proposals were laid out in a lengthy response Monday penned by the Channahon Republican who represents the 16th District asking both sides of the gun violence argument to come together in the wake of shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The 16th District covers all of Boone, Bureau, Grundy, Iroquois, LaSalle, Lee, Livingston, Ogle, and Putnam counties and parts of DeKalb, Ford, Stark, Will, and Winnebago counties.
Kinzinger said “we have a gun violence epidemic, and to address it, we need to change some laws and change some hearts.”
The death toll from the two weekend shootings rose to 31, according to The Associated Press.
Along with proposed law changes, Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran and member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, called on news outlets to stop naming mass shooters, showing pictures of them, publishing their “insane manifestos,” and “unintentionally glorifying them to otherwise insane and desperate people,” saying the coverage leads to copycats. He wrote that the focus needs to be placed on victims and “pulling together for the communities.”
Changing the age of gun purchases to 21 “is more controversial, but too important to shy away from any longer,” he said.
A U.S. citizen must be 21 to buy a handgun under current law, he said, noting the initial thought was shotguns and assorted hunting rifles still would be available for younger Americans.
States should be able to create exceptions for some shotguns for hunting purposes, he said.
“However, this provision has allowed many legal purchases of semi-automatic rifles by soon-to-be mass shooters,” Kinzinger said.
“Particularly in school shootings, the assassins are often enrolled in school, recently graduated, or expelled. In some cases, a grudge is carried out with legally purchased weapons. An adolescent, high school-fueled grudge is much less likely to survive over the three years between the end of high school and the time of legal age of purchase.”
Exceptions can be made for people younger than 21 who use arms in the military or as part of their job, he said.
Background checks already occur in most gun purchases, “and are not a hindrance to legal purchase,” he said.
He called for accurate and timely information to be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background System, which he cited as a “major failing in the case of the Sutherland Springs church shooting in Texas.”
“This change may create a slight inconvenience to some, but will not restrict the rights of those who are eligible to purchase.”
High-capacity magazines, such as the 100-round drum the Dayton shooter used this weekend, should be banned, he said, adding that the changes will help, but they won’t solve the core issue.
“Violence is in the heart of these tragic shootings, and we cannot create laws to detect or deter evil,” he said. “This violence is whispered in ears, watched on television, played online through interactive games, and it grows into action.
“Whether it’s a mass shooting, domestic violence, or any other similar act, the reality is that evil exists. When people are told that there is no life after death, no accountability to God, and have no hope when life feels miserable, people succumb to sadness, despair and violence.”
Society needs to recognize this reality, he said.
“It may offend some, but the denial of this reality is an affront to the very clear facts in front of us. It is a huge issue, and banning guns will not change the underlying issues of evil, violence and mental illness.”
His proposals should not be perceived as being against the right to bear or keep arms, and he remains an advocate for the Second Amendment and conceal carry. Kinzinger said.
In listing the tragedies in El Paso, Dayton and daily gun violence in Chicago, Kinzinger wrote “we have become numb to this senselessness.”
“After every shooting, the conversation runs like a broken record with some who believe banning all guns is the answer, while others advocate for running for arming more and more people to protect against these dangers.
“Meanwhile those of us not in those two mindsets are left feeling helpless, frustrated, and at a loss.”