senator john thune
South Dakota Senator John Thune, U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Seybert

Two of the most widely covered recent mass shootings were executed by 18-year-olds who legally purchased their assault rifles before slaughtering a total of 29 people. One specifically waited until his 18th birthday to legally purchase his weapons and ammunition.

But one of the top Senate Republicans negotiating with the Democratic-led efforts to hammer together a gun control deal says raising the minimum age for gun purchases isn't even being discussed right now. In fact, many reports make clear if any legislation actually comes together, it will be as non-controversial as possible and also highly ineffective. One top GOP Senator recently said tightening gun restrictions "not gonna happen."

In 2022 there have been 247 mass shootings to date. 18,821 people have died from gun violence in 2022 so far, including 716 children aged 0-17, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

CNN's Manu Raju reports GOP Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina "suggested to me this AM they can’t get consensus on raising age to 21 for gun purchases."

“That could be in the discussion but right now we are trying to work on things where we have agreement.” Asked why they no consensus. “We gotta get 60 votes”

Another Republican Senator, John Thune of South Dakota, the powerful Minority Whip, was asked by Raju why people need AR-15s.

"I think that there are legitimate reasons why people would want to have them," Thune told Raju. "So I just think that the issues that they should be focused on is how do you keep those types of weapons out of the hands of these young, in this case, male, very deranged, young men.”

Raising the minimum age is one way, but that's apparently a non-starter for most Republicans, seemingly also Thune, who says assault weapons are used by his constituents to hunt "prairie dogs."

“The challenge you have on that is there's 20 million of them in the country already," Thune said, referring to the popular AR-15 style semi-automatic assault rifles that were originally developed for use by the military. "They are a sporting rifle. And it's something that a lot of people for purposes of going out target shooting — in my state they use them to shoot prairie dogs.”