How Old is Old Enough?

When should a person be considered an adult? Is there a specific age where, like it or not, you are an adult? 18?  21?  35?  Or is it an accomplishment? Your first full time job? Graduating from college?  Marriage?  For me, its hard to pinpoint a time when I started to feel like an adult. I was a pretty responsible kid, but immature in a lot of ways, too. I do remember after I had been married for a year or so, realizing how smart my parents really were.  Maybe that was it.  I’m really not sure.

The notion of adulthood has come to the forefront again with the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.  As usual, the focus of how to prevent these things from happening has been solely on passing new legislation to regulate gun ownership.  In a disturbing twist, the mainstream media decided to use the children who survived this horrific event to further their agenda.  After CNN staged a supposed town hall meeting, several of these young people were turned into spokespeople for the cause.  This has caused other teens across the country to adopt the cause, resulting in the minor civil disobedience which took place today.  Great. A whole new generation being trained to throw hissy fits and focus on the wrong end of the problem.

As a result of all this teen angst, the question of age and adulthood has come up as it pertains to gun ownership.  The State of Florida, under political pressure to “DO SOMETHING”, recently passed legislation requiring the purchaser of a long gun to be 21 years of age, raising the age limit from 18.  This was much celebrated on the left, as the most recent shooter happened to be 19.  Many of the same folks cheering this bill have advocated for the voting age to be reduced to 16. Hmm. In other words, they think a 16 year old is responsible enough (at least the 16 year olds who agree with their agenda) to make decisions on who will lead their community and country. To me, there is a major logical disconnect here.

Let’s talk through this. At the age of 16, we put our kids in a 3000 pound car and send them out on the road. I’m on the road a lot. I can tell you first hand, it is a dangerous place to be, where decisions have to be made quickly. But a 16 year old can legally get out there put the pedal down. Over 2,000 teens die every year in car crashes.  On top of that, we give them a phone, knowing full well they are not physically capable of putting the darn things down for a minute. When I see someone doing something stupid on the road, I assume it’s because they’re looking at their phone.  Some have decided 16 year olds should be able to vote, based solely on some of the reactions of students to the Parkland shooting. I remember being 16. I had opinions on everything and would happily share them. Some things never change.  Anyway, I realize now I had a pretty poor understanding of the world and how things work at that age. I’m very glad 16 year olds can’t vote.

At the age of 18, you are considered to be ‘of age’.  You more or less get treated like an adult.  At 18, you can legally sign a contract, be sued, and die for your country. Yes, at 18, you can join the military, where they will issue you an M-4 (an actual assault weapon), and teach you everything about it, including how to more effectively kill our enemies. If you are killed in combat, you can receive a military funeral.  At 18.  But you can’t buy alcohol, and in Florida, you cannot buy a rifle.  Right.  Makes sense only if you’re more interested in controlling things you don’t like than actually protecting anyone.  Apparently, some magic happens in those 3 years and you become more responsible at age 21.  Yes, most continue to mature and gain some life experience.  But how can we justify letting 18 year olds vote and die for our country, but not buy a rifle or a beer?  Just. Plain. Stupid.

We need to decide.  The decision needs to make sense and be consistent.  You’re an adult or you’re not.  Maybe this shouldn’t be determined by age.  Are 18 year olds today as mature as those 20 years ago? I don’t know and I don’t really have a strong opinion either way.  I do know its silly to ban an 18 year old from buying a rifle, while we’ll issue one to him and expect him to risk his life using it.

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