Rep. Omar on Lowering Drinking Age to 18: 'We Do Believe Them to Be Old Enough to Go to War'

Ben Kelley | June 9, 2022 | 11:02am EDT
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House Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)  (Getty Images)
House Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) (Getty Images)

(CNS News) – When asked whether the legal age to drink alcohol, 21, should be lowered to 18, which is the legal age to purchase a rifle, such as the AR-15, House Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said she supported the idea because when she was a legislator in Minnesota she had introduced a bill to do that.

At the U.S. Capitol on June 8, CNS News asked Rep. Omar, “Under federal law a person can buy a rifle at 18, but can’t buy alcohol until they’re 21. Should the drinking age be lowered to 18?”

“It’s actually a really good question,” Omar responded. “When I was in the Minnesota House I actually co-authored legislation to do just that.”

“We do believe them to be old enough to go to war,” she added. “You know, I think in many respects these kind of limitations we are trying to create around protecting civilians with guns -- it’s really less about what age somebody should be, but more about what their capabilities are. And I just hope that we are beginning to have, like, serious conversations around these things.”

Federal law dictates that a person must be 21 years of age or older to buy a handgun (a pistol) from a licensed vendor, but only 18 if the vendor is private and unlicensed. Furthermore, the age limit on purchasing long-guns or rifles, such as the AR-15, is 18.

According to The Texas Tribune, the Uvalde shooter was able to legally purchase the two AR-15s that he used in the massacre shortly after his 18th birthday. Seven states have raised the age limit to purchase such rifles to 21. Those states are Florida, Illinois, Hawaii, Vermont, Washington, New York, and California.

AR-15 style rifles, or long-guns, which shoot one bullet each time the trigger is pulled, like a shotgun.  (Getty Images)
AR-15 style rifles, or long-guns, which shoot one bullet each time the trigger is pulled, like a shotgun. (Getty Images)

NPR reported that the alleged 18-year-old perpetrator of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York was able to legally purchase his rifle from a vintage gun store in his hometown, despite New York having some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.

Months before the shooting, police had ordered the man to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, an order that did not appear in his background check. The police also found two other guns in his car.

The “Protecting Our Kids Act,” which the House passed on June 8 and Rep. Omar supported, would raise the legal age to buy rifles and shotguns, with some exceptions, to 21. The bill also contains measures to regulate gun trafficking, so-called “ghost guns,” firearm storage, and bump stocks.

Most “significant federal requirements regarding firearms” are currently governed through two laws: The National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is the primary agency tasked with enforcing these laws.

A pistol, handgun, which is semi-automatic, meaning it shoots one bullet each time the trigger is pulled.  (Getty Images)
A pistol, handgun, which is semi-automatic, meaning it shoots one bullet each time the trigger is pulled. (Getty Images)
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