• How old do you have to be to buy a gun?

    Date: 09.05.07 | by Judge Tom.

     As a general rule, firearms may not be sold to minors. So, for the most part, you cannot buy a gun if you’re under 18. Your parents must agree before you can have a gun, ammunition, or any toy gun that shoots a dangerous or explosive substance. BB guns, air rifles, and pistols may be considered weapons and should be used only under adult supervision.

     Check with your local sporting goods store or game and fish department about the laws in your area. If you′re given the chance to take a firearms safety course, sign up—even if you think you′re familiar with weapons. If a friend wants to go hunting or target practicing with you, ask him or her to also take the class.

    Don’t participate in dangerous games, such as Russian Roulette, with friends or by yourself. In December, 2011, a 15 year-old teenager in Kingman, Arizona was charged with a weapons felony regarding a friend who shot himself in the head and died playing this game. Firearms are not the problem, it’s the person who possesses the gun who either has no training with weapons, no common sense or is simply a reckless individual. National statistics for firearm injuries and deaths are high, but preventable.

    Photo by Chuck Coker

    You′re probably aware of the rules about weapons (like guns and knives) at school. Even if you′re asked to hold a weapon for a friend or store it in your locker, don′t! Under the law, school authorities may search your locker, and if you possess a weapon, even for a brief time, you′re at fault.

    In May, 1996, a sixteen-year-old junior in Wichita, Kansas, was expelled for his senior year for having a paintball gun in his car at school. Jeremy was a football player, a yell leader, and a member of the National Honor Society, with a 3.6 grade-point average. He had participated in a paintball tournament the night before, and afterward threw the gun in the back of his car.

    Jeremy′s school, like many others, has a “zero tolerance” policy on weapons at school—whether real or realistic-looking replicas. With guns (and even gun look-alikes), the bottom line is to know the laws in your state, community, and school—and follow them.

    Update: 65% of high school students support stricter laws covering the sale of guns. In 2007, over 31,000 people died from gun violence in the United States. (Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence; Gallup poll; Graduate Institute of International Studies, 2007 Small Arms Survey).

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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