Republican Sen. Jeff Flake announced Wednesday he's backing a bill to increase the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic rifle, lending bipartisan support to legislation that was introduced last week by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the wake of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
"A kid too young buy a handgun should be too young to buy an #AR15," Flake, of Arizona, said in a tweet. "Working with @SenFeinstein on a bipartisan bill that will raise the minimum purchase age for non-military buyers from 18 to 21 - the same age you currently have to be to purchase a handgun."
The idea has emerged as potential compromise among GOP and Democratic lawmakers -- who are sharply divided and therefore gridlocked on gun control issues -- as they search for a response to killings by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school. Cruz used an AR-15 style weapon, which he purchased legally, to kill 17 people.
They are also considering a bipartisan bill to improve reporting compliance by states and federal agencies to the National Instant Criminal Background System.
"Under current law, licensed gun dealers cannot sell a handgun to anyone under 21, but they are allowed to sell assault rifles like the AR-15 to anyone over 18. This policy is dangerous and makes absolutely not sense," Feinstein of California said when introducing her bill last week. "If you can't buy a handgun or a bottle of beer, you shouldn't be able to buy an AR-15."
Flake announced last fall he would not seek re-election for his Senate seat.
At a White House forum Wednesday on school shootings with parents, teachers and student survivors of recent tragedies, President Donald Trump was urged to consider raising the age at which such weapons could be purchased, something he appeared to embrace.
"In addition to what we're going to do about background checks, we're going to go very strong into age, age of purchase, and we're also going to go very strong into the mental health aspect," Trump said.
This BBSNews article originally appeared on News | WPLG.