Majority of Texans support raising the minimum age to buy firearm: UT study

A new University of Texas poll shows a majority of Texans support raising the minimum age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21.

Ed Espinoza, Democratic analyst, and James Dickey, president of JD Consulting, joined FOX 7 Austin's Mike Warren to discuss.

MIKE WARREN: Ed, this poll says 76% of Texas voters want to raise that age to 21. Will lawmakers take heed?

ED ESPINOZA: Will lawmakers take heed? No, they will not. Republicans will not do anything on guns. At least they haven't shown a willingness to do that just yet. But they should do something because a majority, like you said, a majority of voters want this. A majority of Republicans want this. And, Mike, let me explain something really critical here about the age. Many of these shooters, including the Uvalde shooter and the Santa Fe Springs shooter, were under the age of 21. That means they have gone through all the safety precautions that schools teach kids against active shooters. They have a tactical advantage when they're going into the schools because it's so they're so close to the age of when they learned it. This is a problem tied in with mental health and all the other issues. We need to stop this gun violence epidemic in this country. We should raise the age of assault weapons to 21.

MIKE WARREN: James, some Texas GOP leaders are saying this proposal is unconstitutional. Including the governor. Explain the thought process there, if you could.

JAMES DICKEY: So absolutely. While it is completely within reason for the government to say you can't buy X until some arbitrary age 30, 21, what have you. You can't buy alcohol. You can't buy tobacco. That's fine. Those are not enumerated rights and those are not inalienable rights that we have as citizens. And one of the rights we have is the right to self-defense. And so while the government can prevent us from buying alcohol until we're 21, they don't have a right to prevent us from, say, having double jeopardy or not being able to. You know, we don't say will give you your Miranda rights. You have the right to remain silent unless you're under 21. Then you don't have the right to remain silent. You have to fess up on yourselves. We also don't say you can defend yourself if you're over 21, but you can't defend yourself if you're under 21. And Ed's exactly right. These shooters that have gone lately, they know what the drill is. Here's the issue. The only shootings have happened in schools where the school districts have failed to allow teachers and students to defend themselves, which Texas law allows. And if they would just stop preventing self-defense in those schools, we could end this tomorrow.


MIKE WARREN: James, and what do you make of the Republicans argument about the right to self-defense, the right to bear arms actually being in the Constitution.

ED ESPINOZA: Which. Well, voting is in the voting is in the Constitution. We limited voting to age 21 up until 1972. We limited we limit vote by mail in this state until age 65. Free speech is in the Constitution, and we have limits on free speech. Everyone knows you can't yell fire in a crowded theater. So I think the absolutism that they take to this issue is not a practical application when compared to how constitutional law is applied to other issues. As for James suggestion that we arm students and teachers, I just don't think that putting more guns in schools is going to be a way to stop more school shootings or shootings anywhere else. They don't all happen in schools, unfortunately.

JAMES DICKEY: They not only happen in schools, but they happen in gun free zones. In fact, we just saw in the Nashville shooting, the Nashville shooter chose among two different schools and picked the one that did not allow self-defense on purpose because it did not. We know how to save kids. We know how to keep them safe. And school districts across Texas that are ignoring the law that allows them to do it, they are to blame.

ED ESPINOZA: How does that fix the church shootings, the Walmart shootings, the Fort Hood shootings? It doesn't. The problem is the assailant signs.

JAMES DICKEY: Every one of them gun free zones.

MIKE WARREN: Okay. All right. We're out of time. We got to wrap this one up. But how the ball's in the legislature's court with this particular issue. So Ed, James, thank you both very much.