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In the wake of the Buffalo massacre, should 18 year old civilians be able to purchse semiauto rifles?

Brian “BK” Kimber

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On May 11, in a spectacular case of relevant timing, a panel of the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals California ruled that CA’s ban on the sale of semiautomatic weapons to adults under the age of 21 was unconstitutional. The Firearms Policy Coalition brought the lawsuit claiming that 18 year olds are legal adult US citizens and therefore entitled to all of the same constitutional rights as anyone over 21. In a 2-1 decision, one judge brought up the fact that many Americans fighting in America’s wars were under the age of 21, and showed themselves more than capable at handling firearms, as well as any older adult. 

For those of you who don’t live in the Golden State, a little background on the California laws are in order. Many of us who live here are aware of them, but a lot of people living OCAL may only know vaguely that we have some of the strictest laws in the nation. The selling of handguns to those under the age of 21 was already illegal when the Californai state legislature passed a requirement in 2018 that adults under the age of 21 who were not part of the military or law enforcement needed to obtain a hunting license to buy eiter shotguns or rifles. This was part of a sweeping package of gun laws that the legislature rushed to enact after the horric murders by a deranged lunatic at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida. As is typical for the activist crowd, the Democratically-controlled legislature passed another law in 2019 going for it and passing another law that said forget it; adults under 21 are banned from owning ANY semiautomatic centerfire rifle at all! 

The lawsuit that resulted in the tossing of the ban from the 9th Circuit was brought by a 20 year old plaintiff from here in San Diego. Now, his lawsuit was filed over the hunting license requirement; it was already moving through the courts when the 2019 law with the outright ban was passed. So the defense team quickly amended their lawsuit to protest both the hunting license ban AND the overall ban. But they weren’t totally victorious: The panel did toss the outright ban but agreed that the hunting license requirement could stay. The media was quick to note that the 2 judges who had voted to toss the law were appointed by The Orange Man Himself, Donald Trump. This is notable because the media literally never points out who appointed a justice in a highly-publicized case. 

And then just a few days later, the horrific racist mass murder at the Tops Market in Buffalo, New York, erupted into the headlines. A complete loser named Peyton S. Gedron, 18 years old, self-radicalized on the internet, fired up his Twitch live stream. He then parked his car in the parking lot, exited the vehicle, and began shooting. I will not repost the video here; if you look hard enough you can find it. It is very, very tough to watch. It’s just a slaughter. The video shows several head shots on women already lying on the ground and moaning in pain, just to illustrate how depraved this was. And I do believe he had done some training with this rifle (which, by the way, was scrawled with the N-word and the number 14, a common white supremacy symbol.) There wasn’t much spray-and-pray at all, he was aiming and hitting what he was aiming at, and reloading quickly. This was not someone who was firing a rifle for the first time, so we will see what the investigation turns up in that particular direction.

He moved quickly from the parking lot into the store, where he continued the rampage. This was when certified badass and 30 year veteran Buffalo police officer Aaron Salter Jr., 55 years old, engaged him with his sidearm. Early reports are saying that Gedron was wearing some kind of body armor and that Salter scored some hits that could not penetrate. Whether this was soft armor or actual plates remains unknown.

The shooter’s motive and general outlook on life was also pretty clear, as shown in his rambling 180 page manifesto (which I will also not link to but will post some excerpts.) He was pretty outspoken about his white supremacist beliefs and his hatred for both black people and Jews:

Are you a facist?
Yes, fascism is one of the only political ideologies that will unite Whites against the replacers. Since that is what I seek, calling me a fascist would be accurate.

Are you a white supremacist?
Yes, I would call myself a white supremacist, after all, which race is responsible for the world we live in today? I believe the White race is superior in the brain to all other races.

Are you racist?
Yes, I am racist because I believe in differences of capabilities between races.

Are intolerant?
Sure. The last virtues of a dying nation are tolerance and apathy, and I want none of it.

Are you an anti-semite?
YES! I wish all JEWS to HELL! Go back to hell where you came from DEMON! But in reality a Jew confined to Judea where he can’t spread his people or beliefs is of no concern to me. It’s important to note that with proper connection to the internet, that is impossible.

His politics were more complicated, as he denied being a “conservative” and said he could, depending on definitions, accurately be described as right wing, left wing, socialist, or some combination of all three: 

Are you a conservative?
No, conservatism is cooperation in disguise, I want no part of it.

Are you a homophobe/anti-LGBTQ?
I believe the problems involving LGB(drop the T) are very insignificant, if one is actually part of the LGB or LGB group and they are loyal to their people that is fine with me. Transgenerism however is a mental illness and should be addressed as such.

Are you “right wing”?
Depending on the definition, sure

Are you “left wing”?
Depending on the definition, sure

Are you socialist?
Depending on the definition. Worker ownership of the means of production? It depends on who those workers are, their intentions, who currently owns the means of production, their intentions and who currently owns the state, and their intentions.

Now, as usual, law enforcement have completely botched this, as the kid was able to walk into a gun store and purchase the weapon as an 18 year old, even though he had been detained by the state police before. Apparently the nut was asked to take part in some sort of school project that asked about their plans after graduation. Gendron, 17 at the time, said that he wanted to commit a murder-suicide, as many mentally helathy teengers do. He said he was joking, but, in a rare case of a school doing the right thing, the state police were actually notified. They took Gendron into custody on June 8, 2021, under a state mental health law. He was kept in custody while he underwent a “mental health evaluation” but was released in a few days. Shortly after that, he graduated and just dropped off the radar. 

This is where the disconnect seems to be. As we have seen from multiple mass shootings, authorities usually have been notified in some form or another that the future shooter is a complete whackjob and needs to be checked out. But then what? Unless that is somehow noted in a police reaport, the gun store owner (who did run a background check) has no way of knowing that this seemingly polite young man asking which assault rifle he woud recooment is actutally a racist mass murderer in waiting. But it isn’t as easy as it sounds. We have Constitutional rights in this country, and you can’t just lock up someone indefinitely in the fear that they MIGHT do something sometime in the future. 

I bring this all back to the California law being tossed. As an avid fan of the second amendment and enthusiastic gun owner, I didn’t quite understand the celebrations that erupted upon the judges’ decision. Right offhand, I can think of a dozen laws that should be repealed before that one. The “high capacity” magazine ban, the extended buttstocks, the fixed magazines, the out-of-state ammo rules, etc. Did you know that if you want to move to California and bring your guns with you, you can’t just drive them or ship them in yourself? Nope. First, assuming they all comply with California gun spec laws (a large assumption, since most of the stuff you gun nuts have would be illegal here,) you have to bring the weapons into an Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL)  dealer in your state, pay the cost of having them shipped to an FFL in California, pay a handling fee, pay a background check fee, and then go through the added insult of a ten day background check FOR YOUR OWN GUNS. 

My point being, the under-21 thing was a long way down my list of gun laws to get rid of. And as I told you guys on the podcast literally an hour before news of the shooting broke, I really don’t think some 18 year old kid SHOULD have the right to buy a highly-lethal semi-automatic rifle. Stop; hear me out before you start shouting. First, let me caveat that by saying I would exempt young adults in the military and law enforcement; at least they’ve been nominally vetted in some capacity. But let’s go back to that judge’s argument about the young men and firearms where he referenced the Revolutionary war: “America would not exist without the heroism and of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army.” I agree wholeheartedly. 

But this isn’t the 1770s anymore. Back then life was pretty simple. You worked in the fields or hunted or built some shit all day, had time for a few pints, and then collapsed into bed, exhausted from manual labor. Not to mention that they hardly had a choice to take up arms; they were in the middle of a war. And I don’t think that’s a very good comparison to what we have today: Legions of loser young men, many from broken families, with all kinds of personality disorders who can’t find a chick and like to behead cats are all over this country. And unlike the past few centuries of American history, they now have the ability to find like-minded individuals with disturbing mental health and murder fantasy issues on Twitch or Discord or 4Chan or any other of thousand platforms. 

And that’s where the radicalization is starting. This is no different from all of the ISIS guys chatting all day long about severing heads or enslaving Yazidis; it’s the same exact concept. One atrocity begets another atrocity; thousands and thousands of (mostly) young men trying to one-up each other’s bloodlust. There’s a reason this turd said that the guy who radicalized him the most was Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch Mosque shooter who killed 51, with a similar view on immigration and white nationalism. And Gedron was quite open with saying that yes, he consumed the information found on these social sites and downloaded them into his distrurbed brain: 

I’m not trying to pick on the under-21 crowd, but in my opinion, the above factors make me not want to die on the hill of their ability to purchase a potentially-lethal semiautomatic weapon, particularly when we have so many other terrible laws that apply to adults that need to be tossed first. In a perfect world, the gun store owners would be able to quickly scan their names in a law enforcement database, but as we’ve seen over and over again, Federal and State law enforcement simply does not have the time/resources to properly police the almost 40 million background checks conducted in 2021. And I’ve personally seen too many fucked up 18 year olds to feel comfortable with them having access to weapons that can quickly kill large groups of people as we saw in the video. 

At 18 years old, the human brain has simply not developed enough yet to recognize propaganda and veiled (and not so veiled) racist ideology. These kids are like sponges; soaking up all of this online hate without having the corresponding life experience to counter it. And the best way to counter ideas like these IS to have that world experience. For example, I’ve personally met many post 9/11 members of the military who freely admitted to me that they joined with a strong propensity to despise all Muslims because of that terrible day. But when they actually went overseas, they discovered that the vast, vast majority of Muslims were just ordinary people who wanted nothing to do with the nutty Islamic jihaist ideology. 

I’ll admit that it is a shame that yes, I’m sort of guilty of the same thing with this post. After all, I’m punishing and making broad generalizations of the entire group of would-be under-21 rifle owners because of a few bad apples. But those bad apples are collectively responsible for dozens of American corpses. It sucks because I have defended ownership of semi auto rifles for years. Ten years ago I defended rifle ownership in the wake of the awful Sandy Hook school shooting. I’ve said publicly, repeatedly, that I’ve accepted the fact that if we want to keep our second amendment rights as guaranteed by the constitution, we have to also acknowledge there will always be a few bashit cray whackos who, every once in a while, are going to go kill innocents. There is absolutely no way, under current law, that you can stop a guy like Stephen Paddock; who buys a bunch of guns, absolutely legally, and then decides he wants to go kill a bunch of people. 

We do have some tools to get some of these weirdos beyond bars. So-called “Red Flag Laws” (which New York has) are designed to identify those who present a danger to themselves or others and, after certain judicial procedures, may have their guns taken away or be put on a list where they aren’t able to purchase one from a gun store. Indeed, New York does have those laws, which are vehemently opposed by the gun rights crowd as being far too susceptible to abuse from gun-grabbing politicians. Although I have some sympathy for that argument, I simply have covered SO MANY mass murders, infanticides, negligent homicides, spousal homicides, and simple weapons incompetence on the podcast that I believe something must be done to get weapons out of the hands of crazy people. I think personally I should be able to own anything I want but I’m also the only person I trust so here we are. And I will NEVER not side-eye some 18 year old kid with a twitchy eye and Call of Duty hoodie in the gun store being handed a SCAR. 

Disagree? Tell me how I’m completely wrong and a big Lib in the comments below!

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Brian “BK” Kimber

Content Producer, VET Tv

BK is the host of the popular international news podcast, “World News with BK,” now with almost 300 weekly episodes. A military veteran, BK served in the elite United States Air Force Pararescue (PJ) teams. He is a graduate of some of the military’s toughest schools, among them the USAF Pararescue indoctrination course, US Army Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification course, the USAF Pararescue Medical course, and the US Army Military Freefall (HALO) school.

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