Business & Economy

Would raising age limits decrease California gun sales?

Workers clean Smith & Wesson .357 magnum revolvers recently rented by customers for target practice at the Los Angeles Gun Club on December 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
Workers clean Smith & Wesson .357 magnum revolvers recently rented by customers for target practice at the Los Angeles Gun Club on December 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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How old should you have to be to buy a rifle? After the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill to raise the age to 21 for all firearm sales. 

Currently, under federal and California law, gun dealers can only sell handguns to buyers 21 and older. But they can sell rifles to buyers 18 and up.

It’s tough to get official numbers on how many 18 to 20-year-olds are currently buying guns in California, where certain types of weapons are already banned. Statistics on rifle and shotgun sales to adults under 21 were not available from California’s Bureau of Firearms.

The California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, a gun dealer industry group, says anecdotal reports from sellers across the state suggest buyers aged 18 to 20 are driving a significant portion of gun sales in California — anywhere from five to 10 percent. 

But Gunslingers Gun Shop owner Jeff Taverner in Glendora says he doesn't get many customers that young in his store.  

"Even one or two a week would be a lot," Taverner said. "And we don't sell one to two guns a year to somebody at that age."

Taverner opposes the age increase, but says the move wouldn’t really hurt his bottom line.

Charles Laase, the owner of The Firing Pin in Temple City, also said he gets very few customers old enough to buy a long gun — but not old enough to buy a handgun. 

"We have them come in and look, but they just can't afford to buy," Laase said. "A lot of them would like to have them, I'm sure. But the money just isn't there." 

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Feinstein's bill faces long odds of passing, with Republicans in control of both the White House and Congress. But last week, President Trump did appear to support the idea in a Tweet about gun laws. It read, in part, "Raise age to 21."

Two states, Hawaii and Illinois, already ban the sale of all guns to buyers under 21.