Among other gun control bills that were discussed on Monday, SB-169 passed its final stage on the Senate floor. “Increasing Minimum Age To Purchase Firearms.” This bill would raise the age to purchase and possess a firearm to 21 across the state. A few exceptions were written in. These include active-duty military, law enforcement officers, people with hunting licenses, people who are participating in shooting or target sports, and for individuals who need to defend livestock.
The last exception was a major topic of discussion by Republicans.
Minority Caucus Chair, Sen. Jim Smallwood (R) said “We allowed for an exception for person eighteen to twenty-one to possess a firearm if they are defending livestock.” Smallwood continued, “young women can possess a gun to protect a chicken, but not to protect herself or her family.”
Sen. Smallwood continued to speak about the need for young women to protect themselves. He cited the fact that many people believe women in dangerous situations should get restraining orders and have civil protections in place. “There didn’t seem to me to be any acknowledgement whatsoever, that there are thousands and thousands of young mothers between the ages of eighteen and twenty, who are victims or survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, rape. So much so, that some of these women have gone to the lengths to get a temporary restraining order.”
He then discussed just a few of the many cases where young women would have been better off with a way to protect themselves beyond the restraining order.
The first was Shirley Lowery, who was killed by her husband in the courthouse she was trying to get a restraining order at. Then Donna Montgomery, who took out a restraining order against her husband, who later shot and killed her at the bank she worked at. And finally, Teresa Bender, who not only took out a restraining order against her husband, but also had two male friends escort her to and from work. Bender’s husband shot and killed all three of them before committing suicide.
SB-169 passed with a vote of 20-15 with Democrat Senators Kevin Priola, Dylan Roberts and Nick Hinrichsen also voting no. Along with this bill, SB-168 and SB-170, which would allow lawsuits against gun manufacturers and an expansion on red flag laws respectively, also passed the final Senate phase. All three bills will head to the House.