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Local

Kinzinger proposes age change to gun purchases, making background checks tougher

'We need to change some laws and change some hearts'

In the wake of mass shootings in Ohio and Texas that left more than 30 dead, DeKalb County's Congressional representatives both offered reactions to the American gun violence crisis.

Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a Republican representing the 16th District, which includes much of DeKalb County including DeKalb, advocated Monday to raise the age to purchase a firearm to 21, require universal background checks for gun purchases, ban certain high-capacity magazines and for states to adopt "red flag laws" that place protective orders on those with mental issues.

The proposals were laid out in a lengthy response Monday penned by the Channahon Republican asking both sides of the gun violence argument to come together in the wake of shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, saying "we have a gun violence epidemic, and to address it, we need to change some laws and change some hearts."

The death toll from the two weekend shootings rose Monday to 31, the Associated Press reported.

Along with proposed law changes, Kinzinger, who is an Air Force veteran and member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, called on news outlets to stop naming mass shooters, showing pictures of them, publishing their "insane manifestos," and "unintentionally glorifying them to otherwise insane and desperate people," saying the coverage leads to copycats. He wrote focus needs to be placed on victims and "pulling together for the communities."

Kinzinger said changing the minimum age for gun purchases to 21 "is more controversial, but too important to shy away from any longer."

The congressman said a U.S. citizen must be 21 to purchase a handgun under current law, noting the initial thought was shotguns and assorted hunting rifles still would be available for younger Americans. He said states should be able to create exceptions for some shotguns for hunting purposes.

"However, this provision has allowed many legal purchases of semi-automatic rifles by soon-to-be mass shooters," he said. "Particularly in school shootings, the assassins are often enrolled in school, recently graduated, or expelled. In some cases, a grudge is carried out with legally purchased weapons. An adolescent, high school-fueled grudge is much less likely to survive over the three years between the end of high school and the time of legal age of purchase."

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, said in a tweet that Americans must be protected against the "escalating threat of domestic terrorism." She said Congress receives monthly briefings on new threats, including white nationalism.

"What a scary and dangerous time in our country," she said.

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