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Mass Shooters Are Getting Younger. Texas Doesn’t Seem To Mind.

As the Kansas City Chiefs were celebrating their Super Bowl victory in their hometown with a parade this week, shots rang out. The confetti started to fall, and then the bodies as well. One person was killed and 22 injured, including 11 children. Two of the suspects detained are reportedly juveniles.

There is a definite pattern of mass shooters getting younger. Before 2000, mass shooters were generally early middle aged. Teenage shooters such as those that committed the Columbine Massacre were rare.

Since 2018, six of the nine deadliest shootings in America have been committed by people under the age of 21. A number of these have been in Texas. The boy who killed 10 people and injured 13 when he attacked Santa Fe High School in 2018 was 17 years old. The gunman who committed the Robb Elementary School Massacre was 18.

There are a number of possible reasons. The first is that young men (more than 90 percent of mass shooters are men) are often simply more violent. A link between the first rush of testosterone in puberty and aggression is well established.

Unfortunately, gun manufacturers are now specifically targeting this group in marketing. According to documents obtained by Sandy Hook Promise as part of a lawsuit, gun manufacturers were aiming ads at children as young as 10. Sixteen-year-olds in particular were referred to as a “window of opportunity.”

All of this has led to law enforcement repeatedly supporting the idea of raising the minimum gun buying age to 21. In Texas, you must be 18 to purchase a rifle, but that can be subverted with parental permission. Guns can also be legally given to minors as gifts.  

After the Robb Elementary shooting, the families of victims petitioned the state legislature to raise the minimum gun buying age for AR-style rifles to 21. From the beginning, a bill faced stiff opposition from senior Republicans. Governor Greg Abbott, who promised to make Texas a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” said the idea was unconstitutional, though he never provided a legal basis for that declaration. Secret Service agents testified in hearings that most mass shooters who use such guns are under 21.

The bill made it out of committee but was never brought up for a vote. Since then, there has been no movement from the Republican-controlled legislature, which doesn’t sit again for regular session until 2025.

One of the most famous youth shooters in America moved to Texas in 2023. Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted for killing two protestors in Wisconsin thanks to the state’s “stand your ground” laws. Since then, he’s become a right-wing celebrity who now runs a gun activist group in Texas backed by the major figure in conservative political fundraising like the Defend Texas Liberty PAC. With major financial support, Rittenhouse has positioned himself as the face of young gun enthusiasts in the state.

Despite the alarming number of shooters nationwide and in Texas particular that are getting younger, the entrenched Republican power structure in the state seems happy to continue making guns accessible to teenagers no matter the consequences. While the Texas legislature has passed some laws that expanded mental health care for at-risk teens and which fortify schools, the possibility of denying any young man a gun seems unthinkable at this time.

For more information about mass shootings in Texas, visit our Gun Violence Watch website.

Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner is an award-winning freelance journalist, the author of The Rook Circle, and a member of The Black Math Experiment. He lives in Houston where he spends most of his time investigating corruption and strange happenings. Jef has written for Houston Press, Free Press Houston, and Houston Chronicle.


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