Thursday, October 28, 2010

Geriatric Gun Owners

Daisy sent us the link to a wonderful article about growing old with guns.

I know plenty of people who are responsible gun owners. My dad was once one, too. But I think anyone who owns a gun would be wise to ask: What will happen as I age? Can I be sure I wouldn’t accidentally use the gun against someone I love?

Because that’s exactly the danger with my dad. He’s often confused enough that he doesn’t recognize his own wife. He could shoot her, or his beloved dog, or even his newly beloved cat. I know damn well he’s not the only aging gun-owner with too much exposure to Faux News and too little ability to cognitively filter real threats from those imagined.
The article was talking about how fear plays into this, but basic geriatrics is enough to be concerned with. I wonder if the pro-gun, pro-rights folks can stop fighting the good fight long enough to address this problem.  People are living longer, the problem is growing.  Yet, you don't hear much about it.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.


  1. a wonderful article about growing old with guns.

    Would it be OK, do you think, if I 'grew old' without a gun? I mean, would my aging go on naturally if I never owned a gun in my whole life?

    Is it 'normal' to grow old with a gun? Gosh, I'm getting kinda worried...


  3. Maybe we should implant a chip in everyone's hand and when it turns red and starts blinking they can go get reborn.

  4. Mike, I am curious what your “solution” is for old people with guns.

  5. mud_rake, You're gonna be just fine. Think about it, the chances of your shooting your foot off are practically zero, unlike many of our blog friends.

    TS, the solution is education and common sense, it's stopping all the denial and facing the fact that elderly gun owners may require special assistance. In many cases this may come in the form of family members taking their guns away.

    You didn't think I was going to suggest the government should do it, did you?

    I mentioned the solution, but the problem is guys who are so blindly dedicated to the advancement of their gun rights that they lose all perspective and common sense. To them, the thought of taking someone's guns away is so abhorrent that even when it's called for they could not do it. This is where education comes in.

  6. MikeB: “You didn't think I was going to suggest the government should do it, did you?”

    For a second there… yeah, I kind of did.

    Clearly this man’s family knows his situation better than the government- and it is up to them to decide the solution. Hiding the guns from dad was a pretty dumb idea though. Laws that make it difficult or expensive to transfer firearms to his children/nephews/nieces wouldn’t help the situation either.

  7. By the way, do you think dear old dad managed to discover that his guns were missing within the allotted 72 hours- or is he a criminal?

  8. Thanks for linking to me. I'm the original poster on the issues posed by my dad's guns as we are slowing losing him to Alzheimer's.

    We're all going to age, with or without guns, unless we are unlucky enough to die young. And if you are all sure you'll avoid dementia - or be able to admit it, should you not avoid it - then you should be safe with your guns in old age, too.

    Trouble is, at no stage has my father admitted that he's got anything more than just normal forgetfulness. By now, though, he's suffering from paranoid delusions part of the time. Other times, he's mostly lucid. Should we leave him the guns so that the next time he suspects his wife of cheating on him, he can do something about it? Or the next time he thinks my brother poses a physical threat to him, he can defend himself?

    My sister spoke with a social worker who counsels Alzheimer's patients and their families. She said hiding the guns is exactly what needed to happen. My dad now keeps asking my brother when the guns will be cleaned, but he seems to have a very foggy sense of time (which the social workers said is also normal as the disease progresses).

    Gun rights have no meaning when someone is no longer capable of distinguishing reality from hallucination.

    Believe me, my family is grieving terribly. My dad's decline over just the past month has been precipitous. The only thing that would make me sadder is if he killed someone. The most likely victim would be my brother or my sister or his wife - the very people who are enabling him to still live at home.

  9. Sungold: Thanks for your perspectives. Sending best wishes your way for you, your dad, and your family.

  10. Me too, Sungold. All the best. Please write to us again if you feel like it, if there's some development with the gun-cleaning situation. It's a fascinating case which thanks to your comment has remained very real for us on the blog. At times we tend to go off on theoretical tangents, but this is a concrete dilemma which many will face and it speaks to the heart of the gun debate.