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Rep. Nadler says 18-year-olds can’t have guns because ‘brains undeveloped’ but are needed in military

Rep. Jerry Nadler during House Judiciary Committee markup of H.R. 7910, the “Protecting Our Kids Act,” June 2, 2022. (House of Representatives/Released)
June 03, 2022

On Thursday, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, argued that 18-year-olds “whose brains aren’t fully formed” should be subject to a military draft and be able to volunteer for service, but they should not be allowed to own a gun.    

“We recognize different ages for different purposes. We recognize 18 for the draft. We recognize 16 for driving in some states. We recognize 21 for drinking. So, we recognize different ages for different purposes. That’s all I wanted to say,” Nadler said during a hearing on gun legislation.

Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie then asked Nadler if he would be willing to cosponsor a bill to raise the draft age to 21, to which Nadler replied, “No.”

“But the chairman feels that their brains aren’t fully formed at 18, 19, and 20?” Massie pressed.

“The research does indicate that,” Nadler responded. “But the selective service needs – I mean, if the country needs people [to fight in war] it needs people.”

“Needs people whose brains aren’t fully formed?” Massie asked.

“In certain respects, yes,” Nadler replied.

During the hearing, Nadler claimed that there is a “massive body of research that shows that 18 through 20-year-olds, having not completed the maturation of parts of their brains, are far more likely to engage in violence than people older than that.”

Massie, accepting Nadler’s assertion for the purpose of the argument, asked why the United States then allows 18-year-olds “to make the decision to go fight for their country.”

“I’d like to just summarize what we’re doing here today and what’s going on, because this is the last amendment to a series of six bills. Republicans through the course of eight, or nine, or 10 amendments, we’ve done triage trying to save the constitution in the face of six bills that exhibit callous and wanton disregard for the constitution,” Massie said.

“But also callous disregard for the safety of American citizens. What have we seen today throughout these amendments? Well, Republicans tried to defend due process, Democrats said no thanks. Republicans tried to establish what the Supreme Court has already established, that this is an individual right to keep and bear arms,” he continued. “Democrats don’t even want people who need guns, who could use guns for their self-protection to have them. They just don’t want any guns anywhere.”

“They would like to repeal the Second Amendment,” Massie asserted.

Massie noted that Republicans attempted to protect the rights of domestic violence victims, military families and draft-age.

“We’ve heard them be insulted here that their brains aren’t fully developed, but yet we need them, we need to be able to conscript them into service of our country to defend a constitution that’s being shredded here today and whose rights they will not be able to enjoy because some here have decided that although their brains aren’t fully formed, they’ve decided that they can go fight for us,” Massie said.