Republican Kinzinger: Raise Age to 21 for Long Guns; Go for Universal Background Checks

By Susan Jones | August 6, 2019 | 6:51am EDT
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) (Photo: Screen capture)

( - Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said mass shooting attacks are "absolutely terrorism," and he is now advocating both universal background checks for all gun transactions and raising the age to 21 for the purchase of all guns, not just pistols.

Kinzinger outlined his recommendations in an op-ed on Monday, then spoke about it with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Monday night:

"I didn't write this op-ed for politics," Kinzinger said. "I don't know if this is a good political move for me or not. I don't really care. But I'm as burdened as everybody else is at what's going on."

And I'm looking at this fight and saying both sides, every time there's something like this, entrench into our corners, and we don't find solutions that I think are agreeable and it can actually mitigate the problem. So first off, I think gun purchases need to be raised -- the age needs to be raised to 21.

Right now to buy a handgun in this country, you have to be 21. And the initial thought was, well, we're exempting basically long guns because that's things like hunting gear and ... shotguns. But I think that now obviously is defining things like purchasing an AR, which in many of these mass shootings is actually used. So I think raising that age to 21, still allowing people in the military to carry their service weapon or cops that are under the age of 21.

The next thing is, we do need universal background checks, and doing it iinn a way that it's not cumbersome when there's a private transfer. If I'm going to buy a weapon from my father, for instance, which I've done before, that doesn't have to be cumbersome.

And I think looking at the heart that exists, too and the recognition that there is real evil. Why are people feeling both this draw to evil, the draw to violence? Why are they feeling totally isolated in this country? That's not a government solution, but that's a solution for people that either go to church or are involved in social circles, why are people feeling isolated?

Take hold of these issues, and I think we can begin to see some real difference, especially when it comes to the 21 age in the area of school shootings.

Cuomo noted that Kinzinger previously has voted against background checks, including the language in the recent House-passed bill, HR 8.

"What's changed?" Cuomo asked the congressman:

"If you look at HR 8, there's little things in there about, for instance, a rancher can't loan his gun to a farm hand to protect his livestock," Kinzinger said. (That's because all private gun transfers would have to go through a federally licensed firearms dealer.)

Kinzinger said he spent the weekend after the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton thinking about "what can we do?"

"Not what can we argue about, what can we actually do. And I came to the realization that I think universal background checks does need to be done. I think that age does needs to be raised to 21."

Kinzinger admitted that his suggestions won't stop all mass shootings: "But if they can help stop even one shooting from happening, and not infringe on the Second Amendment rights, we ought to do it."

Kinzinger said if he could vote again on HR 8, even in its current form, "I would probably vote for it," even though it contains provisions he doesn't like.

HR 8 prohibits a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check. The bill specifically states that any regulations arising from the bill "may not cap the fee licensed dealers may charge individuals to facilitate transfers."

Another Republican, Rep. Bruce Babbin of Texas, went on Fox News early Tuesday morning to urge passage of his bill, the “Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety Act of 2019, (TAPS Act, HR 838.)

Babbin said unlike red flag laws, his bill “will not be any infringement on anyone's civil rights, a way to be able to grab someone's guns, or lock them up or do anything like that.”

Babbin’s bill would develop and implement a national strategy for preventing targeted violence through behavioral threat assessment and management, the same system used by federal authorities to protect the president, for example.

“This is a process that is scientifically proven,” Babbin said.

It was invented or come up with by the U.S. Secret Service after President Reagan had an assassination attempt, and that is over 30, 35 years ago. And so it’s nothing new.

This is not an expansion of any law. This is getting a federal proven process that works into the hands of the local and state police forces, schools, universities, any other entity that wants to be trained up -- this is a training program, and it will save lives. It’s proven.

And if it’s saving the lives of diplomats and presidents and Congress – you know, Capitol Hill police, they have the threat assessment method, and many celebrities in Los Angeles police department has used it for many years.

If it’s good enough for the president, celebrities, then it’s good enough for the rest of the people of this country.

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