Chris Roemer: Keep assault weapons out of the hands of 18-year-olds | COMMENTARY

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Sometimes I read a commentary so incredibly ridiculous, I have an almost irresistible urge to respond in a way I most likely would regret later. I’m sure there are those out there who read my commentaries who can relate.

Concerning the recent Times commentary drawing parallels between Russia and the United States, well, I’ve decided to just shake my head and let it pass.


I’m not very familiar with today’s movies or the people who act in them. I much prefer old movies, the kind you find on TCM. The quality of those movies is based on the strength of the script and the skill of the actors. Today’s movies are more about explosions, special effects, and how many times the “F” word can be squeezed into the dialogue.

Anyway, when I learned someone named Matthew McConaughey made a speech about gun control, and that he is a movie actor, my first reaction was what it usually is when I hear someone from Hollywood pontificate. Why does McConaughey’s celebrity make him an authority on anything other than maybe acting? Still, I listened to what he had to say, and to my surprise, he turned out not to be some virtue signally entitled airhead, which too often characterizes many of McConaughey’s colleagues, people who take it upon themselves to offer opinions on a whole host of topics about which they know precious little.


McConaughey spoke with intelligence and passion, advocating for measures that were not based on any particular ideology. His ideas were measured and practical. He sounded like someone with common sense. He didn’t demand he get everything he wants or nothing at all. In other words, he didn’t seem like the typical politician, who places his reelection and the interests of his party above the interests of the country.

I don’t know about you but raising the age at which an individual can purchase an assault rifle (or whatever you want to call the kind of weapon used in the most recent school shooting in Texas) to 21 doesn’t seem an unreasonable requirement to me. I understand 18-year-olds who join the military have access to these weapons, and to weapons that are even more lethal, but having access to an assault rifle in the military is a little different from having access to one in Uvalde, Texas.

How can it possibly make sense to make it illegal for an 18-year-old to buy a pack of cigarettes, but allow him to walk out of a gun shop with an assault weapon? I won’t bore you with a discussion here about the adolescent brain. Suffice it to say, 18-year-olds tend to be pretty impulsive with executive functioning skills that are not fully developed. Actually, the same argument for why 18-year-olds shouldn’t be able to buy alcohol, cigarettes and firearms can be used to justify why raising the voting age back to 21 makes sense, too, but we’ll leave that debate for another time.

Surely, we can figure out how to keep weapons out of the hands of those who show a propensity for violence or are dealing with some form of mental illness. Maybe the solution we come up with won’t be perfect from anyone’s perspective, but given the level of carnage we are currently experiencing in this country, whatever we come up with has to be better than the way things are now. Why is requiring someone to wait three whole days before they can bring home their new weapon of choice such a horribly unreasonable thing to ask? I mean, how inconvenient can such a requirement be?

It’s about this point in the argument someone always brings up a slippery slope concern. Ban 18-year-olds today, and the next thing you know, no one will be allowed to buy these weapons. I get it. Progressives are a tenacious lot and they will not be satisfied until the only weapon available to U.S. citizens is the sling shot (even then, they’ll be working overtime to outlaw sling shots), but let’s do what we need to now, and save that fight for later.

I still believe the ultimate solution to the overwhelming number of problems facing this country is far more fundamental than any legislation will ever address, but it’s also true the Lord gave us a brain. It would be nice if we used it once in a while.

Chris Roemer is a retired banker and educator who resides in Finksburg. He can be contacted at