Pew Research Center

Currently, there have been more mass shootings than days in 2023. According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of March 16, 2023 — the 75th day –there have been a total of 95 mass shootings in the United States.

With numbers growing and a lack of consensus coming from the House and the Senate, states are left to scramble and mitigate the risk. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont is trying to reduce gun violence in Connecticut and has announced three sets of gun violence prevention proposals.

Haley Gervino

The first set of proposals tackles gun violence in Connecticut from multiple angles. Lamont wants to invest an additional $2.5 million in community violence intervention programs, ban the open carrying laws, limit handgun purchases to once a month, and update the state’s ban on unregistered “ghost guns.” The second set of proposals would close loopholes in the state’s assault weapons ban, strengthen penalties to the state’s ban on large capacity magazines to make the ban enforceable, and increase the firearms purchasing age to 21.

Lamont said, “National statistics show that Connecticut remains one of the safest states in the country and violent crime has been decreasing here over the last several years, but even one shooting is one too many.” He is right. One shooting is one too many.

Out of all his suggestions, the most controversial yet important change is through raising the firearm purchasing age to 21. Currently, federal law already restricts those younger than 21 from buying a handgun but says nothing about the age to purchase a long gun. This loophole allows 18-year-olds to purchase long guns such as semi-automatic AR-15-style rifles.

It is no shock that Connecticut has been the driver for gun safety and regulation. The anti-gun advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety has stated that Connecticut has some of the strongest gun laws in the nation. Out of a composite score of 100, Connecticut ranks 78.5 for gun law strength.

The state has carried the weight and burden of gun violence since the brutal murder of 20 children and seven adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. With the addition of closing long-gun loopholes and raising the purchasing age, murderers like 20-year-old Adam Lanza, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, and 18-year-old Salvador Ramos will not be able to purchase long-guns.

Loopholes regarding the purchasing age of long-guns must be federally restricted. By this, we need to enforce a federal law that discusses the age to purchase a long gun. A report published January 2023 estimates out of 193 mass shooting incidents, 93 mass shooting incidents were conducted with a long gun (63 rifles, 30 shotguns).

Public opinion predominantly supports raising the federal age to purchase firearms. According to Tim Malloy, a Quinnipiac University Poling Analyst, “as mass murders by teenage killers tear at the heart of the country, Americans say by a three to one margin, you should be 21 to buy a gun.”

Although the public agrees that a federal law should raise the purchasing age of long-guns (semi-automatic weapons), certain politicians and gun rights advocate groups refuse to allow for new legislation. Some may argue that raising the age is discriminatory, but that is absurd. There is no situation where an 18-year-old needs an AR-15 for routine protection. If the true issue resides with protection, then there are other means that individuals under 21 can rely on.

Governor Lamont is doing what he can to protect his constituents from the plague that is gun violence. However, the federal government needs to implement similar policies on a national basis. By continually allowing people to purchase long-guns at the age of 18, they are feeding into mass shootings.

Enough with ‘Thoughts and Prayers.’ It is time for action AND deliverables. Federal legislation needs to mirror strong states, like Connecticut, to ensure that gun violence does not surpass the previous year’s record of 648 mass shootings.

If other states follow this lead, the possibility of national legislation grows perceptively. Connecticut is the model for advancement in the fight against gun violence.

Haley Gervino lives in Storrs.