Gunning for Gun Reform: Should The Elderly Own Firearms?

With the population of people over age 85 increasing year after year, many previously unprecedented questions are being shoved to the forefront of the public discourse. Many have suggested the elderly be retested for driver’s licenses after a certain age. For some, however, a more sinister question lurks just outside the line of fire. Should the elderly be allowed the continued ownership of firearms? They are listed as a right to the people, but when does the safety of the majority trump the rights of the individual? This week’s blog will be an exploration into the issues brought forth by supporters of gun reform, the rebuttals listed by gun rights activists, and the potential solutions proposed for the problem set forth.

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Gun Reform for Elderly Owners

Many studies have been cites regarding the prevalence of gun ownership in elderly homes. A National Firearms Survey found that of all respondents aged 65 or older, around a quarter of them owned guns. One study by the Veteran’s Health Administration even found that around 40% of veterans with mild to severe dementia still had guns in their homes. This begs the question: when is the right time for intervention on the part of the government? Gun reform activists have stated that the government should enforce regulations on potential gun owners, stating that all people who want a gun license should first be seen and cleared by a medical professional. This ensures that people with dementia or depression due to old age will not have access to a lethal weapon. However, elderly people who prove they are sound of mind and have proper cognitive functioning would maintain the rights to their firearms.

Gun Rights for Elderly Owners

Many proponents of the second amendment refute those claims, stating that gun ownership is an inalienable right. Some state that older people who own guns typically were raised in homes which had them, so firearm safety is not an issue. Enforcing extra precautions on the whole of gun owners, according to gun rights activists, is unconstitutional due to the precautions set out in the founding documents, and cannot be infringed upon. Only once a person with a gun acts irrationally or unsafely should their rights be revoked.

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There is no easy fix for this debate. Firearms and the reforms surrounding them have been a hot button topic in America for years. This could be partially due to the fact that, where other many other developed nations report having approximately 25 guns per 100 citizens, the aforementioned National Firearm Survey found that the United States has an estimated 93 guns per 100 citizens; this is substantially more than the global average. To date, however, there are no restrictions specifically written to promote gun safety for elderly owners with deteriorating mental or physical wellness. What do you think should be done regarding this issue? Leave your thoughts in the comments.