The students who are calling for gun control in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, are challenging the stereotype of American kids as lazy and uninterested in politics. Unfortunately, when it comes to electing lawmakers whose decisions about gun control and other issues affect their lives, these teens lack any real power. This needs to change.
Critics will no doubt raise questions about the ability of 16-year-olds to make informed decisions in the voting booth. Aren’t the brains of young people not fully developed enough to make good judgments? Aren’t young people impulsive and hotheaded?
Not in a situation like voting, which isn’t something done on the spur of the moment. It’s done calmly in a voting booth and with much deliberation. Studies show that by age 16, young people in this kind of situation can gather and process information, weigh pros and cons, and reason logically with facts. Teens may sometimes make bad deliberative choices, but they don’t make them any more often than adults do.