Ban Gun Sales to Adults Under 21 Because Brain Isn’t Fully Developed, Argues Neuroscientist

(Photo: NRA)

Down in the GunShine State legislation that would ban all firearm sales to adults under the age of 21 is being contested in court.  

While the case is currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lawyers from both sides are arguing over which expert witnesses should be allowed to give testimony once the proceedings begin.    

One potential witness that is a source for much of the bickering is Dr. Pradeep Bhide, a neuroscientist at the Florida State University College of Medicine.

State attorneys, who are charged with defending the law, are asking Dr. Bhide to offer testimony because he contends that restricting gun sales to adults 21 and over “is thoroughly justified from the perspective of neuroscience.”

“Brain regions that exercise voluntary control over our actions develop at a slower pace compared to brain regions associated with emotional and impulsive actions,” Bhide said in a 12-page report filed with the court. “Thus, a developmental ‘mismatch’ emerges within the brain during development.”

The “mismatch” is “particularly pronounced in adolescence … and it fades away in adults, by 21 years of age,” he continued.

“In other words, certain human behaviors that we perceive as the actions of a ‘mature’ or ‘adult’ individual emerge, on average, at 21 years of age,” wrote Bhide. “Delaying gun purchase until 21 years of age can offer the cognitive brain the ‘extra’ time needed to be able to exert adequate control over emotional and impulsive behaviors.”

NRA attorneys, who filed the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the age requirement, want the presiding judge, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, to bar Bhide’s testimony for several reasons. 

First, they point out that Bhide never directly studied human brain development, that his experiments had only examined laboratory mice.  A point that Bhide, himself, conceded.  

Second, they said his opinions on the matter are “extrapolated from emerging research of others in the very specialized and controversial area of adolescent brain development.”  

Finally, they criticize him for not spelling out the risk associated with young adults legally purchasing firearms and how it is tied to cognitive development.  

Bhide’s testimony “cannot assist the trier of fact in this case because the only ‘fact’ for which his testimony has been offered is the link between a handful of articles on brain maturation and the speculation that young adults are more likely to commit criminal violence with a purchased firearm,” wrote the NRA attorneys. 

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There are several ways to look at this.  One is if it’s true that we ought to wait until the brain is fully mature before citizens are allowed to exercise certain fundamental rights and expected privileges then the Second Amendment is only the tip of the iceberg.  

For the sake of public safety and the general welfare of society, one can argue, young adults should also be prohibited from driving, voting, gambling, enlisting, protesting, and an array of other potentially dangerous activities and responsibilities that should be reserved only for those with a developed mind.

If the concern is really that they are not fully mature enough to responsibly purchase and handle a long gun, then how can we expect these young, cognitively underdeveloped adults to safely drive a two-ton automobile at high speeds or follow the ROEs while prosecuting a war on foreign soil or peaceably assemble at a contentious political rally or employ reason over passion to vote for a presidential candidate that has America’s best interest at heart?  

Short answer is, if we’re being intellectually consistent on this front, we can’t.  We need to significantly curtail the freedoms and privileges of young adults across the board.    

But, of course, none of the proponents of the age restriction on purchasing guns supports such a sweeping move.  And the reason is obvious.  Because the law wasn’t conceived from a place of concern for the cognitive immaturity in young adults and its effect on society, rather it was penned solely as a means to hurt the gun community.

As always, gun control isn’t about “saving lives.” In this particular case, it’s about discriminating against young adults and going after the pocketbook of gun makers. Anti-gunners know that by preventing hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Floridians from becoming active buyers and sellers in the gun market, they’ll be depriving the industry of a significant amount of revenue.

No, it won’t on its own bring down the 2A community. But when taken in concert with all the other policies anti-gunners are pushing, it’s one of the thousand cuts they hope will ultimately prove to be fatal.

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About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 58 comments… add one }
  • Paul March 13, 2021, 10:20 am

    This number known as 21 should be permanently retired, almost all of the rest of the world has done so and replaced it with 18. That will be all.

  • Donald Bittner January 3, 2021, 4:17 pm

    We must remember, Our youth are allow to join the military at 18 yr old and put their lives on the line for their country. If their brains are developed enough for that, why not to buy a firearm. In Utah at 18 they can get a CCW that is good only in Utah till they turn 21. This doctor doesn’t know what he is talking about, I suspect he is just another anti gun nut.!!!!

    • Ron- February 13, 2021, 3:14 pm

      I AGREE WITH YOU. IF THEY WANT TO CHANGE IT TO 21 THEN OUR KIDS SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO BE INDUCED INTO THE MILITARY UNTIL THEY ARE 21. I ALSO AGREE THAT THIS SO CALLED DOCTOR IS NUTS. TEXT BOOK NERD AND DOESN’T UNDERSTAND GUNS AT ALL. THE DOCTOR NEEDS TO COME OUT TO A GUN RANGE AND WATCH 18 YEAR OLD AND EVEN YOUNGER HANDLE GUNS AND SHOOT, IT MAY CHANGE THEIR MIND. I GOT MY FIRST GUN WHEN I WAS 14 YEARS OLD. I HAD TO READ A GUN SAFETY BOOK AND TAKE A TEST AFTER. IF I DIDN’T PASS NO GUN, BUT I DID. I’VE TAUGHT MY KIDS THE SAME WAY AND THEY SHOOT BETTER THAN I DO. THEY NEVER TAKE ANY GUNS OUT ANY GUNS WITHOUT MY SAY SO. BESIDES I’M THE ONLY ONE WITH THE COMBO. TO THE SAFE. THESE LAWS THEY WANT TO PASS ARE REALLY STUPID AND GIVES THE CRIMINALS A BETTER ADVANTAGE TO BREAK INS AND ROB. YES WE HAVE HAD SOME REAL BAD SHOOTINGS BUT NOT BY NORMAL LAW ABIDING GUN OWNERS. YES BAN SOME OF THE JUNK THAT IS COMING IN NOW THAT HAS NO PURPOSE. TARGET SHOOTING, TRAP SHOOTING AND HUNTING IS WHAT MOST PEOPLE DO. AS LONG AS THEY DON’T BOTHER ME AND WANT TO TAKE MY GUNS AWAY IN GOOD TO GO.

  • Mark - IN. January 3, 2021, 1:11 pm

    From what I’ve gathered from the story whether he/she is a born or naturalized American city, or not is that he/she concedes that he/she has only studied mice in laboratories. I have no idea what the mind set of a 18 – 21 year-old mouse is and doubt that he/she does either. That having been said, I don’t know if mice should have to wait until they’re 21 years-old to be able to purchase firearms or whether or not they should be able to vote in federal elections at the age of 16 as the democrat party argues for. I hope that We The Taxpayer aren’t or haven’t been funding studies about which mice should or shouldn’t be able to purchase firearms or vote.

  • Charlie G January 3, 2021, 12:37 pm

    If this gibberish is true then anything these “doctors” say was learned while their own brains were not functioning properly. Advanced education should not begin until after age 21!

  • Doh! January 2, 2021, 10:23 pm

    I’m pretty sure we can all think of someone we know or knew that was 18, which shouldn’t have access to guns.

    Im pro gun, but I’m also pro cognitive reasoning.

  • Gunrunner January 1, 2021, 9:24 pm

    “Ban Gun Sales to Adults Under 21 Because Brain Isn’t Fully Developed, Argues Neuroscientist”
    yes!!!! People under 21 do NOT HAVE fully developed brains! So, NO GUNS! And, NO VOTING! And, NO Military Service! And NO Alcohol! And NO COLLEGE! And no BABY MAKING! Yeah! NONE of these things should be used or done by undeveloped brains! Gimme a break…

    • Eddie January 2, 2021, 10:14 pm

      Yes, actually, that all sounds like a great idea.

    • Ed Koenig January 3, 2021, 7:38 am

      I agree totally with this person! I was 17 when I went to the United States Army. How could you say that a person should not purchase any kind of firearm at the age of 18! I was not only issued a rifle, but I was also issued hand grenades! I guess they would rather have me walk into combat with a shovel and a night stick, and a sign that says please don’t hurt me. I came from a state that would not let me learn shooting skills when I was growing up, and now I can’t hit a bull in the ASS more than 3 feet away! I don’t think putting on a uniform makes the brain any more developed than a person that does not.

  • Red Nebtrab January 1, 2021, 9:07 pm

    These scientists must be under 21.

  • chinch bugg January 1, 2021, 8:24 pm

    Can we add voting to that list of things “children” shouldn’t do?

    • Elapid King January 2, 2021, 6:35 pm

      We should raise the voting age back to 21.
      Ironically enough, the same people calling for banning firearms to those under 21 are also the same people who insist that 16 year olds are somehow mature enough to be given the vote.

    • Eddie January 2, 2021, 10:15 pm

      Yes, we can and we should, those kids are idiots.

  • Dit January 1, 2021, 6:44 pm

    Perhaps the good PhD should be addressing the bigger problem. What about people OVER 21 whose brains are not fully developed? Perhaps he should develop a questionnaire/test to give to liberals to prove NONE OF THEM should be trusted with a firearm at any age.

  • Eric January 1, 2021, 5:22 pm

    I guess this means that we should not let them vote either because their brains are not fully developed?

  • Kane January 1, 2021, 5:06 pm

    Charles M. Schulz, creator of the Peanuts cartoons, protected his copyright to prevent the swarming perverts from weaponizing his moral and innocent theme after his death. I believe Schulz was a devout Catholic and he certainly understood how his creation would be used by others if afforded the opportunity. .

    Neuroscientists like Dr. Pradeep Bhide, have mostly cheered on or remained silent while young American students are bombarded with destructive philosophies of gender psych-ops on extremely young children.

    • Eddie January 2, 2021, 10:17 pm

      What? Nobody was waiting in the wings to get rich making charlie brown porn.

  • Jack January 1, 2021, 2:57 pm

    So they can vote, buy property, enter into contracts, carry firearms into war, get married, and do everything else a 21 year old can do, but not own a firearm. I get it.

  • Rocket Scientist January 1, 2021, 2:36 pm

    I have a few questions about this so-called Dr. Pradeep Bhide:
    1. What’s his own IQ? And should everything he’s ever accomplished before age 21 be dismissed too…
    2. How did he obtain his degree(s) — I’m assuming he’s got a PhD (Piled high and Deep)? Or did he cheat his way through schools?
    3. Has he ever practiced actual clinical medicine ever in his life? Or always lived an insulated life in his academic ivory tower?
    4. Most importantly, why 21? Can it be 18 for girls, and 30 for boys? TBD for Dr. Bhide? Where are his data / evidence and has his findings (not whatever he copied and pasted) ever been peer reviewed?

    Until demonstrated otherwise with data, this Dr. Pradeep Bhide is talking about himself and his own heirs, while seeking his 15 second fame like many other quacks.

    Personally, the more education I got, the less respect I hold for “professional” teachers: Too many couldn’t find jobs after their B.S. degree so they stayed on campus and climb the Ivory Tower all the way into the Clouds. And because they are holding the next generation’s GPA (aka future) hostage, they tolerate absolutely no differing opinions and dismiss any findings pointing otherwise.
    Khrushchev’s plan succeeded.

  • Norm Fishler January 1, 2021, 2:21 pm

    But among this same bunch are those who will argue passionately that 14-16 year olds should be able to vote.

  • Mike Hunt January 1, 2021, 2:08 pm

    That’s one Neuroscientist who does not have a fully developed brain.

  • Nicholas January 1, 2021, 12:46 pm

    I’ve argued this very point to pretend pro-2nd groups and their lawyers in my region. I wrote all the board members of the NRA several years back, and I’ve asked the GOA to explain. What does feelings, temperament, whims, and fears have to do with law?
    Before I say this, let me preface it by stating that there are volumes written on the DUTY to keep and bear arms. DUTY! Does anyone in today’s so-called pro-2nd community understand the word, and that the original Constitution requires able bodied men bear arms in order to fulfill their DUTY? Require, DUTY! How else do you protect your rights?
    I’ll say this again, maybe someone will listen, and make the minimal effort to read the Constitution at Article I, § 8, Cls. 15 & 16, and Article II, § 2, Cl. 1. Then go over to Article I, § 10, Cl. 3 to find out what the National Guard is according to the Constitution.
    Rule 1, The People formed the States, and the States formed the Union, therefore the People formed the Union, and their sovereignty.
    Rule 2. In forming the Union “We the People” created the Supreme Law of the Land, by which all public representatives are bound to its delegated authorities, restrictions, and therefore subservient to the People by the provisions set forth.
    Rule 3. Nothing in the Constitution can be changed by an organic act of the legislature. Every word, phrase, or clause has a specific meaning that was carefully debated, and understood. Nothing can be changed without a constitutional amendment at Article V.
    Rule 4. If the Constitution states a specific provision, it barres any alternative rule. So, when the Constitution states at Article I, § 8, Cl. 16 that the Congress is “To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia”, it means it can do no other. Congress is barred from unorganizing, disarming, and leaving us without the lawful militia as defined in statute.
    These are rules that were set at the convention, and legal doctrine that is centuries old. I’ll ask all those who believe that so-called pro-2nd attorney’s are actually fighting for you, what do interpretations by so-called experts in social behavior have to do with the rule of law?
    Comments here are read by staff at Gunsamerica. Allow me to post a challenge to them, or any other group who claim to be pro-2nd. You can put together a team of pro-2nd experts and I’ll debate them in writing or in person. Or, I’ll write an article and those experts can refute it, and I will be given the chance to refute their assertions.
    Remember this, for the Constitution to mean anything at all, it must be held sacred. When you allow the very people who represent you to tell you that not all the words have lawful meaning that provide an authority or restriction, you are desecrating the very document your Forefathers wrote for you.

    • P January 2, 2021, 10:25 pm

      If you’re not capable of making good judgement then you are not of sound mind and body

      The 18 year olds of 1776 were way more mature than the idiot 18 year olds of 2021.

      • michael January 4, 2021, 5:14 am

        All of them ?

  • Stephen January 1, 2021, 11:42 am

    Can’t buy firearms till 21, but we can send them to some foreign land at 18 to be slaughtered huh? You arrogant asses! How bout we send your sorry asses into combat the next time you idiots decide to get ballsy! You make the decisions? You get to go first and die! Only fair right?

    • P January 2, 2021, 10:27 pm

      Or just change that age requirement also….. shouldn’t be sending kids to die in old man wars anyway.

  • Zupglick January 1, 2021, 11:03 am

    I know 40 year olds whose brain hasn’t fully developed.

    • Elapid King January 2, 2021, 6:37 pm

      I call them Democrats!

  • Flight-ER-Doc January 1, 2021, 10:51 am

    Indeed: We should not allow those under 21 to vote, drive, drink, operate heavy equipment, handle sharp items…..

    //sarc

    • Ed Charles January 1, 2021, 11:46 am

      It is most evident that this person is a perfect example of those who should never own a gun at no matter what age. We should consider those as this person as the only people who should not ever be allowed to possess any kind of weapon, especially a pen. He or she should not ever be allowed as anything other than an “expert” example of what is the worst of those who walk among us. Most assuredly he/she should not have any kind of other effective influence in or to shape others minds and brain development and neither should they be allowed to breed (in my admittedly more unbiased opinion). This is an excellent reason to perform our duty as parents and other reasonable people to educate our progeny at a very young age to ensure they do not end up as warped as this he/she. Our children need to have positive role models and not attend most American forms of education, where time after time we see examples such as this designed to indoctrinate and dumb-down and not educate. Those positive examples are just about extinct in our children our future and have been so in the last too many generations.

    • Leigh January 1, 2021, 12:11 pm

      You hit the nail on the head…you forgot: marry or have kids…

    • Ed January 1, 2021, 3:56 pm

      Exactly.

  • ray January 1, 2021, 10:50 am

    I’ll agree as long as you can’t vote until your 25!

  • bill agaana January 1, 2021, 10:41 am

    If a fully developed brain is a qualification, then Adam Schiff and hundreds like him in DC would never become qualified.

  • mark January 1, 2021, 10:25 am

    there are already articles stating the mind develops in some areas faster than others. that way they can justify such ridiculous notions of a 5 year old deciding they want to be a female. you know. too them. its “SCIENCE.”

  • David January 1, 2021, 10:17 am

    Considering how immature and narcissistic liberals are, the law should only ban liberals (for life) from owning firearms and voting. The damage done by them is FAR worse than any war in which we have been engaged.

  • Clint January 1, 2021, 10:08 am

    Well, there is a bit more common sense in FLA compared to most states, they were the first to allow citizen concealed carry without special political connections, and they seem to thumb their nose at the Federales on their Covid rules. This will probably go nowhere fast, but, if introduced in a place like California, could take on a life of its own. Every court case in opposition would be filled with, “…but, they can be drafted, freely join the military, vote, open a business, get loans, get married,…”, and the list goes on. One shrinks opinion making news is the real issue here.

  • Jerrme Bailey January 1, 2021, 10:08 am

    Hmmm…I thought you couldn’t purchase a gun until you were 21 anyways.

    • me January 1, 2021, 12:00 pm

      A handgun yes, but a rifle is 18 under federal law. In my state a 15 year old can hunt by himself or with his/her buddies without adult supervision. But we usually demand are kids grow up.

  • DAVID MILLER January 1, 2021, 10:07 am

    Pelosi said a few years ago Viet Nam vets should not be able to own guns then modified it to all vets

    • Huapakechi January 1, 2021, 3:47 pm

      I turned 21 during my SECOND tour in VN. pelosi can try to disarm me when she shows up in person to violate my Constitutional rights.

  • Andrew Ling January 1, 2021, 9:58 am

    I am 71 in March. My Dad bought me a BB gun when I was 13 years old. Have I miss used guns anywhere, anytime? Not that I can recall. Are we depressed as humans since? Has my mental state changed about guns and violence? Of course! I am more afraid of the gun haters than the guns I own. People who oppose gun ownership are scary people. They are insecure and don’t want to learn a simple truth. Guns don’t harm others. It’s the evil behind it. People under 21 are not evil. As a matter of fact, we must understand that mental disorder strikes people at any age. So, 21 years old limitation is just an arbitrary pipe dream to limit what is an American tradition and birthright. Please take your argument elsewhere.

  • CJ January 1, 2021, 9:56 am

    Well, now you know why the founders set the VOTING AGE at 21.

  • Bernard Gaffney January 1, 2021, 8:54 am

    By that thinking, we shouldn’t allow young men into the military until they are 21 years old either. This doctor is a moron, I’ll bet he went to The Cheepdish School of Medicne in India and then came here to make his $$$ then leave.

    • D January 2, 2021, 10:31 pm

      That’s exactly right, shouldn’t send kids to war, and kids shouldn’t be able to buy guns. In 1776 an 18 year old had a house and a family already, times are vastly different.

  • Meeester Paul January 1, 2021, 8:33 am

    Now do voting and drinking and consider 23 or 25 a better target.

  • shrugger January 1, 2021, 8:31 am

    Return voting age to 21 then.

  • Mike January 1, 2021, 8:28 am

    Ok. No drinking, voting, serving in military, driving on public roads, owning a knife, baby sitting or hunting until a person turns 21.

    • Big Jim January 1, 2021, 3:16 pm

      Or paying taxes…

  • Mort January 1, 2021, 8:13 am

    But they’re old enough to forcibly DRAFT into the military at 18 yrs old and shoot people ?

  • E Nichols January 1, 2021, 7:56 am

    That’s why they use 19 yr olds to fight their wars.

  • Bad Penguin January 1, 2021, 7:41 am

    I and all of the guys I grew up with received our first firearm on our 12th birthday. Usually it was a 22 rifle or a shotgun. We had also started learning to shoot with Daisy BB Guns and fired our first firearm around age 8. None of us every shot anyone or threatened anyone with a firearm.

    Most of the shootings in America happen in Inner Cities that have been Democrat controlled for 50+ years. In NYC only 10% of the people using or carrying illegal firearms in the commission of a crime are charged with that offense. Most cases are dropped or pled down to a minor offense. How about enforcing the law.

  • Jason Rennecker January 1, 2021, 7:16 am

    And yet these same people are pushing for 16 year olds (and felons) to vote. Insanity and hypocrisy defined.

  • Norman Dvorak January 1, 2021, 6:59 am

    This is absolutely ridiculous, the day after I turned 17 I joined the United States Marine Corps. My Mother had to sign some papers in order for me to be able to join. After going through Bootcamp and ITR (Infantry Training Regiment) and other specialized training I found myself disembarking an Airplane In DaNang, Vietnam two weeks before my 18th Birthday. Now if an American can join any branch of Armed Services and be put into harms way and be trusted to operate all types of Military Gear including Rifles, Pistols, Laws Rockets etc then they should damn well be able to own and use for their protection any type of weapon when they are in the actual Country that they went to war for. Even if the person did not go to war for his or her Country they are in the United States which allows very young people to be put into Harms Way if they fight in a war for their Country they should also be able to purchase and use any weapon they desire to use for their protection.

    • Comanche January 2, 2021, 10:30 am

      Well said Norman, all said persons under the age of 21 in the military should be discharged immediately! These loony progressive liberals need to have their brains checked, Damn it anyhow. Thank you for your service Norman, You got to fly over? It was a slow boat ride for me!!!%

    • P January 2, 2021, 10:33 pm

      If a person has served and under 21 then they should be allowed, a 2020 douche bag 18year old with a wood spool in his ear shouldn’t be allowed.

  • Steve Peery January 1, 2021, 6:50 am

    And the same group says that a 16 year old is old enough to vote

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