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Maine Governor: 'Decide What Age is Going to be an Adult' and 'Stay There'

Gov. Paul LePage delivers the State of the State address to the Legislature Feb. 13, 2018, at the State House in Augusta, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

WASHINGTON — Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) said legislators need to “decide what age is going to be an adult” when talking about raising the age to buy rifles to 21 while service members can enlist at age 18 without parental consent.

At a meeting with state and local officials last week on school safety, President Trump said, “We’re going to do strong background checks. We’re going to work on getting the age up to 21 instead of 18. We’re getting rid of the bump stocks. And we’re going to be focusing very strongly on mental health, because here’s a case of mental health… We’re going to be talking seriously about opening mental health institutions again. In some cases, re-opening.”

Eric Trump chimed in on Fox this morning, “I don’t think it’s a big deal if you raise the age to 21.”

Federal law currently sets the age to buy a handgun at 21. The National Rifle Association argued last week that “legislative proposals that prevent law-abiding adults aged 18-20 years old from acquiring rifles and shotguns effectively prohibits them for purchasing any firearm, thus depriving them of their constitutional right to self-protection.”

“Passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20-year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or an adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals,” added the NRA statement.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott unveiled Friday a plan that would include banning gun ownership or sales under age 21 and trying to make it “virtually impossible for anyone who has mental issues to use a gun.” He stopped short of supporting taking semi-autos off the market, arguing that “banning specific weapons is not going to fix this.”

LePage told Fox News today that his “feeling about the age is a little bit different than Governor Scott.”

“And in the state of Maine, you can’t buy a pack of cigarettes unless you’re 21 years old. I believe that we have to decide what age is going to be an adult and we have to pick an age and let’s stay there. If it’s 21, that’s fine. But it’s got to be for signing contracts. It’s got to be for only guns, but going to war. If you’re going to raise the age, let’s treat everybody the same,” he said.

LePage said he supports people “with intellectual, mental disabilities, people that will hurt others” from not owning guns. “I’m a firm believer that if you’re ever convicted of domestic violence, you shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun.”

“I’m willing to take a look at mental illness. And I said to the president today, I think we need to take a look at our federal laws, because people — I believe psychiatrists, psychologists who treat people that are a danger to themselves and others shouldn’t have guns,” the governor added. “And I do firmly believe that. And I think that mental illness is a big problem, that we just look the other way. And when we look the other way, people die.”