Earlier this month Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Joe O’Dea said that senators should look at raising the minimum age for buying an AR-15-style gun, a semiautomatic rifle often used in mass shootings, from 18 to 21.
O’Dea, speaking on KOA’s Ross Kaminsky Show, was asked if he would support raising the age.
“You know, currently those kids can enlist in the Army right now at 18,” O’Dea answered. “So I’m not sure that solves it. But, you know, that’s something if they want to look at it and enough senators get behind it, then maybe they should.”
Listen to the audio of the exchange below:
But during an interview Sunday on Channel 2’s Colorado Point of View, O’Dea said he did not want any more gun laws to be passed and that mental health was more of a priority.
“We’ve got law after law after law on the books right now,” O’Dea said. “You cannot legislate against evil. It’s impossible. We’ve got to get the moral fabric back in our country. … At the end of the day, it’s about mental health. It’s not about putting more laws in place.”
In the interview, O’Dea said that he did not support expanded background checks, magazine capacity limits, or raising age restrictions. Watch the gun reform section of the interview here:
In May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would raise the minimum age to purchase assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines from 18 to 21. The AR-15 rifle was used in the Buffalo and Uvalde mass shootings this year.
The U.S. Senate is negotiating the bill as part of a larger gun-control package, which does seem to have bipartisan support even if the final bill does not include everything passed by the House.
O’Dea, who could not be reached for comment, is facing state Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Cañon City) in the June 28 Republican primary for U.S. Senate. During the same episode of Colorado Point of View Hanks answered gun reform questions by explaining he is a firm supporter of protecting the 2nd Amendment. When asked if he supported any of the gun reform bills currently in the Senate, Hanks said he did not.
“No, and here’s why: the crime rate is going up and people have a right to defend themselves, their families, and their property,” Hanks said.
During his time in the Colorado House of Representatives, Hanks fought against gun reform bills and introduced several bills that he described as pro-2nd Amendment. Watch Hanks explain his stance on gun control below:
The winner of the Republican primary will move on to face incumbent U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) in November. During his time as a U.S. senator, Bennet has fiercely advocated for gun reform. In a statement released in May, Bennet responded to the Uvalde massacre.
“I’m heartbroken for the families of the 19 innocent children and 2 teachers murdered in Uvalde,” Bennet said. “We have endured too many tragedies like this as a country. We must do whatever we can to end the scourge of gun violence in America. The Senate must act.”
Bennet said he supports expanded background checks and closing the Charleston loophole.