The U.S. House of Representatives is set to approve several gun control bills this week, including one that would raise the age when someone can purchase an AR-15-style weapon from 18 to 21.

The Senate is unlikely to approve the measure. But it still speaks to a growing movement to raise the legal age for purchasing firearms, following the Buffalo and Uvalde massacres, explains George Washington University’s Ashwini Tambe.

Though shooters in both incidents were 18 and able to legally purchase assault weapons, considering someone an adult at that age has a relatively recent and complex history, Tambe writes. And “it’s not clear that it can stand up to public scrutiny as a meaningful threshold for legally purchasing firearms,” she notes.

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A boy examines a gun at the National Rifle Association annual convention on May 28, 2022, in Houston. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

There are historical and psychological reasons why the legal age for purchasing assault weapons does not make sense

Ashwini Tambe, George Washington University

The shooters in the Buffalo and Uvalde massacres were both 18, and legally purchased assault rifles. This is fueling calls to raise the age when someone can purchase this weapon from 18 to 21.

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    “My friends, We’ve tried the fortified schools. The Uvalde School District spend $650,000 on 'hardening' their schools. They established a police force just to police the schools. They spend 40% of the town budget on their police force, which organized a SWAT team. That’s failed. Anyone advocating it, is advocating a policy that has failed.”

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