|“Reversing longstanding patterns in the US, residents ages 65 and up are now the most likely of all citizens to own a gun.” Click for full text from the Christian Science Monitor, January, 2004.|
|“Some people have said ‘enough’ and are fighting back and arming themselves. The majority of gun owners used to be mostly middle aged, but now, seniors… are most the likely to be armed.” Click for full text from KPLC TV, January, 2004.
First, what is a Senior Citizen?
Surely, setting an age range might be offensive to some or somehow be politically incorrect. So, instead, for purposes of this web page, we will consider other criteria which may affect the ability to safely own and accurately fire handguns for recreation or for self-defense by a maturing citizenry. We will consider those folk for whom advancing age might have an adverse effect on:
1. General physical strength, health and stamina
There is no doubt that as we age we see an eventual deterioration of our physical attributes. For those of us other than Jack LaLanne, muscles weaken, we become somewhat less robust and our endurance capacity diminishes. This affects all aspects of our lives and we must consider how it impacts the ability to use a firearm for self-defense.We must look at our present condition and at our anticipated general health in three, five even ten years down the road. A handgun that may have been suitable in the past, which may be suitable now, may not be the best choice in the years to come.
For example, the ability to handle a large .45 or .357 heavy handgun usually diminishes with time. One aspect of that is what’s called ‘felt recoil.'”Recoil is a complicated factor since it includes both measurable factors as well as a number of elusive considerations including the size and physical makeup of a shooter’s… [body] as well as what is being worn [concealed, and the size of the ammunition], etc.
When it’s all said and done, a [gun] which may be comfortable for one person to shoot may ‘kick like a mule’ when fired [or feel like a sack of bricks when carried] by another. “Felt recoil, the amount of abuse measured by the shooter’s anatomy rather than by a machine, is what determines whether or not a …gun is comfortable to shoot and how quickly a shooter can bring the recoiling weapon under control for a second aimed shot.”
renowned gun writer
There is the issue of whether or not the biggest gun we can handle is suitable for our life partner (assuming we have one and s/he is amenable to being gun knowledgeable as well).Issues of health are also why training at a modern day gun range is important. Training is important not only to dispel things we think we know about guns and shooting but also to avoid being a hazard to those we love and to innocent bystanders. The “art” of self-defense training has made tremendous strides in recent years and there are many “professional-grade” tips and tricks well worth knowing in order to become more effective with firearms.
Besides, going to the gun range can be very enjoyable and a good way to interest others in shooting as a sport.
2. The ability to deal with anger, danger and other types of stress
Throughout our lives, adrenalin in the system changes our reactions. But in later years, it can be much more disruptive to normal behaviors and capacities than we might guess. We need to be aware of this and take it into account so that we are not overcome when the body starts dumping it into our bloodstream. We need to take steps so that threats to safety and well being to produce a ‘cold rage’ in the face of a threat instead of a debilitating case of the shakes.
This can be done through a conscious effort to increase our awareness of things, threats around us. An excellent reference work on this topic is Jeff Cooper’s(now a senior citizen) Principles of Self Defense. If, as the author says in this slim essay/booklet, “The combination of modern medicine and the welfare state has brought about… an unconscionable drop in personal safety… Your physical safety is up to you.” And if you agree “the stake in personal defense is your life,” then this slim 44-page volume may be just for you. He goes on to say, “This book was not written for cowards… Violent crime is feasible only if its victims are cowards.” And, “The author assumes that the right of self-defense exists. Some people do not. This booklet is not for them.”Further, “…many men who are not cowards are simply unprepared for the fact of human savagery… The techniques of personal combat are not covered in this work. …this work is more basic than techniques, being a study of the guiding principles of survival in the face of unprovoked violence.” And those involve Alertness, Decisiveness, Aggressiveness, Speed, Coolness, Ruthlessness and Surprise. (Available from Amazon or Paladin Press.)
Generally, in regard to confrontational stress, “…the people who performed the best… were the ones who were able to keep control of him or her self. Many remember getting control of their breathing and using this to fuel their inner drive. Those who could get control and overcome the startle response were able to handle the situation. Many of these folks reported that they were not surprised, but were angered by the audacity of the person trying to attack them. It appears that those who became angered were able to channel the chemicals flowing into their system into fight instead of flight or freeze. Many advised that they had taken the time to think about what they would do in the event they were attacked and had even played out scenarios in their head. It is clear that this role-playing or visualization prepared them to take action with little lag time…”
writing in Handguns Magazine, July, 2003
“What Really Happens in a Gunfight?”
Listen to what your brain is telling you.
- Develop confidence backed by real skill… The more competent you believe you are, the less likely you are to be overwhelmed by fear.
- Learn what the psychological responses are to fear and understand they will happen to you no matter how brave you are.
- Constantly strive to improve your observation and assessment skills.
- Stay mentally positive.
writing in Handguns Magazine, August/September, 2004
“Dealing with Fear”
Be aware of the so-called 21-foot rule which is that an assailant can cover 21 feet between you and him in only a few steps, in as little as a couple of seconds. Could you draw, aim and fire accurately within that time?In one test in Florida, more than 30 seasoned officers touching their holstered weapons at the start were unable to escape from the path of a mock assailant without getting injured.The simple fact is that ACTION IS FASTER THAN REACTION.
And from another expert, “…at this point in history, firearms are the only reliable method to stop a criminal before he hurts anyone. While electrical shock guns, baseball bats and tear gas all have a lot going for them, an attacker with a small handgun standing ten feet away can easily defeat [a victim] sporting any of these ‘exotic’ weapons. Exotic weapons also have a disturbing track record of failing at the critical moment… Firearms, on the other hand, approach being 100% reliable if properly cared for [and used] and can offer nearly perfect protection with proper training in their use. Firearms are the only viable means of self-defense [against violent attack].”
again, Duncan Long,
· Maintain positive body language. Stand/walk straight, head up, swing arms.
· Do not walk alone or drive alone in alleys or bad neighborhoods at night if you can avoid doing so. Try not be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
· Do not get into your car and just sit. As soon as you get in your car, lock the doors and leave. Do not do work or balance your checkbook, or eat etc. A predator may be watching and this gives a perfect opportunity for an assault.
· Always take the elevator. Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot. Get off the elevator if someone suspicious gets on or is already on.
· Do not be sympathetic, especially at night. Better paranoid than dead.
· If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, the FBI says to run. Trained police will only hit 4 out of 10 shots when they are in a range of 3-9 feet while under stress. A predator will only hit a target 4 in 100 times. And it is not likely that a vital organ will be hit.
TIPS FOR SAVING YOUR LIFE:
· React immediately.
· If you are abducted do not go willingly. Resist. If you are able, run. Do not ever give up.
· If you are carjacked and are driving, crash your car.
· If the abductor is driving, he must watch the road. Choose a time when his attention is diverted then stick your fingers in his eyes. Then get out. It may be your only chance.
· If you are thrown in the trunk, kick out a back taillight and wave your hand out.
Adapted from material found at www.completefitnessconcepts.com
|“To be properly aware and to avoid danger, the best course of action, hands down, is to develop and maintain a healthy suspicion of our world–our environment–as we go about our daily lives… We need to remember that we cannot simply take people at face value or think the best of everyone, while lowering our self-defined options at the same time, if we don’t want to be blind-sided. Do one or the other but not both at the same time…””I was asked recently to give my definition of the practice of awareness. It is this: I simply accept the world as it is–not as I want it to be–and live accordingly. We all need to pay more attention to what many call our sixth sense and go with it without cluttering our decisions with fatal baggage. Sure, it’s not macho and many times may well be wasted effort, but relearn to pay attention to your your intuition. And act on it.”
Walt Rauch, senior citizen
3. Eyesight and hearing
As we age, our eyes and ears aren’t as reliable they once used to be. For this reason we must be wary of firearms which can temporarily blind us in low light situations (due to the flash) as well as powerful ammunition which may render us temporarily deaf when used indoors.
“…criminal attacks tend to happen in times of reduced light (predators like the dark), and the human eye does not function as well when the light is low… people who were just a few yards from a crime… cannot remember [many details of an] attack. Interestingly, this is usually due not to low light, but to inconsistent light. While what the perpetrator was doing was clear, his face, hands or other actions are often cast in shadows by the inconsistent light at the scene.” Add this to the blinding flash of powerful ammo fired in the dark and the results could be disastrous.
again, Dave Spaulding
There is a natural interest in the most powerful ammo any given handgun can safely fire. Few who go in that direction, though, give enough consideration to the effects of the blast in the dark.
Even before the issues of sound and light caused by gunfire, it is important to be prepared to illuminate the dark. It is a common mistake to rely on a household flashlight full of Duracells™ or other alkaline batteries. Such light sources will inevitably fail at the worst possible time. For bright spot illumination in dangerous times you need to consider the small but very powerful hand lights such as those made by SureFire™. They use Lithium batteries which have exceptional shelf life and they are much brighter than the typical D or C cell flashlights. Forget MagLite, which uses AA or AAA cells. They will fail you. Fail you. Fail. Spend a few extra bucks and get some dependable lighting.
IF YOU KEEP A GUN FOR SELF DEFENSE,
YOU CAN BET YOUR LIFE THAT YOU NEED
A RELIABLE TACTICAL FLASHLIGHT.
You also need to know something about how to use such a light in a self-defense or burglar-in-the-house situation. Click here for some basic guidance. After all, we want to be sure we can identify loved ones and persons/animals who are not a threat in a dimly lit room.
|Advanced study: Fight At Night: Tools, Techniques, Tactics, and Training For Combat In Low Light And Darkness Click herefor information on getting this book online.|
As people age, mostly men, there is often a perception on the part of many around them that they get grouchy or mean. Whether or not this becomes the case, it is something to be aware of in regard to firearms ownership.Since there is sometimes apprehension about that old person with a gun, and because the press seems enamored of printing stories about (those crazy ole) senior citizens owning and using guns, it’s probably best to adopt a policy of not letting the neighborhood or anyone outside your circle of close friends know you own a gun (or guns) nor even your views on gun ownership and use. It is certainly nothing to be ashamed of but there are distinct reasons this may be so.
- You could become the target of thieves (or clandestine searches on the part of youngsters) interested in a gun, any gun,your gun.
- If you elect to carry a concealed weapon (CCW), much of the advantage to doing so can be lost if it is generally known you carry. Such neighborhood knowledge has no deterrent effect. Those who would do you harm will find a way to surprise or disarm you.
- If you live in a neighborhood where shots sometimes ring out in the night, you don’t want to be continually answering police queries on whether the gunfire originated at your house. Okay, that’s a stretch. But the fewer who know, the more secure your gun will be and the more tactical advantage you should have.
There’s another problem, too, as we get older and grumpier. Those around us may become afraid of the fact that we have access to a firearm. Whether it is our significant other, our kids, or just some busybody, we need to be aware that we may seem very scary to them. Consider what steps you can take to prevent such concerns in others.
|One of the reasons there is concern about firearm ownership by the “aged” is because there is an incidence of suicide (or murder-suicide) with guns by older gun owners. Just exactly what the percentage is or what the number of such suicides is per year is unclear. Although firearms suicide among the elderly has received little attention, white males aged 65 and older are more likely than any other age group to commit suicide with firearms. White males 85 years of age and older experience even higher rates of firearms suicide.For older women, firearms have replaced poisoning as the most prevalent method of suicide. Firearms have been the most popular method of suicide among older women for more than 20 years. It has been suggested that unlike some suicide gestures and attempts by younger persons -— in which the objective is to change one’s life, not end it -— suicide incidents among the elderly appear to represent an authentic effort to end one’s life.
The simple fact is this, guns in any home up the possibility of a tragedy. So be aware of the concern and of the heightened risk.
These are valid issues… in Florida in a recent year, twice as many elderly people died from suicide than died by homicide. Like homicides, most gun suicides are not committed with weapons purchased specifically for the attempt, but with firearms already available.
Additionally, the Archives of General Psychiatry “indicated that although depression is generally regarded to be highly treatable throughout the life cycle, most elderly persons with depression remain untreated…” some for longer than ten years. “The implications of the study are that the burden of depression for elderly persons in the community is even more severe than previously thought,” the researchers said. “The data clearly demonstrate the need for interventions that are helpful [and] acceptable…”
Recognize the Risk. Intervene in the Illness.“Rather than becoming sad, men may be irritable or tremendously fatigued. There’s a sense of being dead inside, of worthlessness, hopelessness, helplessness. Men lose their vitality, their life force.”
Dr. Thomas Insel, director of NIMH
Depressed men are two to four times more likely to take their own lives than depressed women. The relentless agony of depression may make suicide seem the only way out.What Loved Ones Can Do
* Express concern, but don’t nag.* Don’t be distracted by [destructive] behaviors.
* Don’t accept resistance at face value.
* Provide emotional support. Listen carefully.
* Don’t ignore remarks about suicide.
* [Once in treatment,] encourage him to remain.
Dianne Hales and Dr. Robert Hales
See also. (Close window that opens to return.)
And we’ll also consider factors on which age has little or no bearing but which are also important:1. Gun ownership experience: Novice, intermediate, decades long
|There can be no substitute for handgun training and regular practice whether or not you have been around firearms all of your life. This is especially true for women. Click here for an interesting account of one mature lady’s experience.|
2. Type of gun(s) available
You will be in one of several situations.
- You already have a firearm.Is this gun suitable for all your self-defense needs?
- Do you need more than a “house gun?”
Has it been well maintained or sitting in a box or drawer for years?
- If not, can you restore it to a safe and usable condition?
Has it become too much to handle in recent years?
- Can aftermarket accessories such as larger or smaller grips help?
- Someone wants to give you a firearm.Does it really meet your needs?
Has it been well maintained or sitting in a box or drawer for years?
Is it too much gun to handle?
- You need to buy a firearm.Which one do you choose?
- Revolver or semi-auto? Or a shotgun?
New or used?
- Get the opinion of a professional such as a gun dealer
Can you fire it or one similar before you buy?
- Is there a full service nearby or within reasonable distance
In determining which gun will work best for you, everyone has an opinion or a prejudice for one caliber or another, one brand and model or another. Click here for one example of such “help.”
(The links all point to different parts of the same page.)What Are Your Options?
Guns for Women
“It is safe to say that the larger the bullet, the more effective it will be. I do not feel that it is a real dramatic difference, but bigger is better. At the same time, it is safe to say that hollow-point ammo is more effective than ball. This seems to be the result not of expansion, but from the bullet’s energy being dumped in the body and not exiting.”
- Dave Spaulding
Don’t let anyone talk you into a firearm you don’t need or which is more gun than you can comfortably or safely handle. If you are considering purchasing a gun and you have a firing range in your area which rents guns, give consideration to renting a couple of models and firing them. This may answer questions better than any other options.If your life partner/significant other will also be involved in using a self-defense firearm, these questions come up:
- Is one firearm enough?
- If one is enough, can you both handle it equally well?
- If you need to help your partner select another firearm, make sure it is their choice and they are comfortable with it. Otherwise, they will lose interest in or never use the gun “jammed down their throats.”
1. It needs to be comfortable in the shooter’s hand
2. It needs to be easy to load, point, to shoot and, if needed, to reload.
3. It needs to be large enough to be seen, to make a visual impression.
It needs to fire ammo of sufficient power to stop an assailant.
Easy to operate and learn
Available in many sizes, calibers
Almost impossible to jam
Slow reload time
Heavy double action trigger pull (1)
Limited ammo capacity, 5-6 (2)
Fast reload time
Available in many sizes, calibers
Higher ammo capacity, 6-11
More likely to malfunction (3)
Learning curve for proficient use (4)
Pulling back, locking slide may be hard (5)
Very intimidating appearance
Wide range of fire with each shot (6)
Tremendous destructive power
Creates a terrible bloody mess
Limited maneuverability indoors (7)
|(1) Gun can be fired single action for much lighter pull.
(2) Average number of shots fired in civilian encounters: 3 or less.
(3) Training and a locked wrist can overcome this.
…..So can the use of factory and range tested magazines.
(4) Simply more complicated than a revolver. See (3)
(5) Some Beretta models with a tip-up barrel can avoid this.
…..For example, the 3032 Tomcat and the 86 Cheetah.
(6) You don’t aim so much as simply point this weapon.
(7) A pistol grip and folding stock minimize this issue. Click here.
Where you live (i.e., urban/rural, single-family/multi family, proximity of neighbors) is something you must consider. Issues of overpenetration, shots gone awry, and the like may cause you to consider less powerful firearms.Also, do others have access you your domicile? Are they likely to “snoop around?” Are there prohibitions against gun ownership (i.e., assisted living or full time care)?
4. Gun Safety
-] The Code of the Gun, Part 1 [-
* Know the characteristics of any firearm you handle.
* Presume any gun you pick up or are handed is loaded.
* Always keep a gun pointed in a safe direction.
* Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
* Use any mechanical safety but never rely on it.
* Always keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it (and unload it when you are through).
* Never point any gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy.
* Know your target and what’s behind it.
* Know what to do in the event of a misfire.
* Never put a trigger lock on a loaded firearm.
* Make sure unattended or stored guns are unloaded and not accessible to others.
* Keep firearms well maintained and free from obstructions.
|Top reasons for gun accidents among seniors
1. People who removed the magazine or clip from a handgun and, thinking it was unloaded, pointed the gun at someone and pulled the trigger.2. People who experienced an accidental [negligent] discharge due to the gun functioning as designed, and were injured because the gun was not pointed in a safe direction while loaded.
3. People who experienced an accidental discharge due to a flaw in the firing mechanism, without pulling the trigger, and who were injured because the gun was not pointed in a safe direction while loaded.
4. People whose firearm discharged when it was dropped.
– – Source: www.triggerfinger.org
Finally, sadly, we must consider situations where gun ownership may no longer be appropriate.
For those of us lucky enough to live to a ripe old age, there will inevitably come a time when our capacities to responsibly handle firearms has passed. When that time is must be something determined by you in advance in order to avoid a situation when someone else wants to (or has to) determine it for you (i.e., significant other, children, physician, etc.).You should consider what will become of your firearm(s) at such a point or after your life comes to an end. This type of property should be disposed of via a will or other legal document drawn up to prevent the weapon(s) falling into inappropriate hands.
|Before we go further, though, it’s important to consider other recourses and behaviors in dealing with danger besides owning or using a handgun.The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin De Becker. The author believes we can all learn to recognize these signals of the “universal code of violence,” and use them as tools to help us survive. The book teaches how to identify the warning signals of a potential attacker and recommends strategies for dealing with the problem before it becomes life threatening. The case studies are gripping and suspenseful, and include tactics for dealing with similar situations. People don’t just “snap” and become violent, says de Becker, whose clients include federal government agencies, celebrities, police departments, and shelters for battered women. “There is a process as observable, and often as predictable, as water coming to a boil.” Learning to predict violence is the cornerstone to preventing it. De Becker is a master of the psychology of violence, and his advice may save your life. — Jane Price. ADVISORY: While this author is not “pro-gun,” this is a worthwhile book.
Of course, there are situations where the awareness of adversarial behavior alone is far from enough. Home invasion is one of several.
Your civil liability in a shooting can be a greater risk than criminal charges.
“Justification in killing someone does not provide criminal or civil protection for recklessly killing an innocent third person in the process. A stray shot you make can be as dangerous to you legally as committing a homicide. Using lethal force is so risky legally it is yet another reason to avoid it if at all possible — for your own safety.”
Adapted from the Bloomfield Gun Owner’s Guides
Link to the Holster Maker Database from this book.
|Hidden in Plain Sight – a Practical Guide to Concealed Handgun Carry by Trey Bloodworth & Mike Raley. What to look for in a concealed carry handgun holster. How to dress for comfortable and effective concealed carry. Traditional carry modes, accessory holsters, unconventional holsters. Customized clothing and which carry modes provide the greatest accessibility based on draw-time comparisons.Unbiased opinions about concealed carry equipment, including several negative reviews (The authors are not affiliated with any holster company, ammo company, magazine, gun maker, etc.) 2nd edition, revised 2003, 167-pages with 107 pictures. NOTE: Amazon sells an outdated edition of this book.|
“Guns Magazine””Concealed handguns are socially acceptable mostly because no one knows we have them… Be guarded to conceal your equipment well, many small things from how you bend over — printing the butt of the handgun [through] your clothing — to how you sweep your jacket open as you reach for your wallet all effect concealability…”
“Even if the circumstance justifies reaching for your gun, do you really want to be in a gunfight in the middle of a restaurant full of people? Or in the bank lobby with your [loved ones] standing beside you?”
“So there is no confustion, if someone offers a genuine threat to you, endangering your life and members of your family — defend yourself — but choose wisely and be very careful…”
“Should your initial contact be the bad man with a gun in your face, trust me you cannot outdraw a gun pointed at you… If you deploy smoothly — not fast — if you move to cover as available, if you shoot carefully and well, all these things will increase your odds of surviving…”
“If you decide to carry a firearm and protect yourself you will need to modify your dress code, so to speak. Your concealment for the weapon cannot come from just the holster. Some concealment must come from your clothing… Get pants, belt, holsters and weapons that all fit each other correctly.”
|NRA GUIDE to the Basics of Personal Protection in the Home – If you were to able to find only find one how-to book on using guns for self-defense, you could hardly go wrong with this one. Last revised in 2000 and spiral bound (so it will lay flat), this book is used by many firearms trainers. (The NRA says more than 100,000 copies have been sold.) [It is important to note that there is no affiliation or association whatsoever between the NRA and this website.]|
* Know the Law, follow the law.
* Understand that having a gun does not make one a warrior.
* Restrict access to your firearms.
* Help to educate others about safe gun use.
(Take an anti gunner to shoot.)
(Always try to err on the side of safety.)(Do not use drugs or alcohol when handling firearms.)
* If stopped by law enforcement, disclose your CCW status.
* Draw your weapon only as a last resort.
* The purpose of fighting is to win.
* The final weapon is the brain.
to prevent firearms from becoming
instruments of tragedy.
|“Who has the primary responsibility and who is the first line of defense of your home and family? The obvious answer: you! You are better qualified than the government to evaluate your own personal situation. Your neighborhood, the level of crime in your area… and other variables must be considered and evaluated as you make decisions about your personal safety. You are in the best position to analyze your own situation and determine the safety tactics best for you, your home and your family.”…the true test of any security measure must be whether or not it gives the citizen a realistic choice of stopping an attack, home invasion or assault before the crime is committed and the damage is inflicted. The tactic doesn’t have to be 100% foolproof, but must have a good chance of stopping the crime… Physical barriers such as dead-bolt locks, fences and alarms can be effective in thwarting would-be burglars. Actual records, however, indicate that most people do not apply thhe rigid discipline necessary for thes measures to be truly effective. Every door and window must be religiously locked, alarm systems activated at all times and the garage door closed and locked every time…
“[The] NRA does not presume to dictate to anyone what safety measures they should employ. We do know that, for millions of Americans, a firearm is a practical means that works. Owning a firearm available for personal protection requires significant thought, planning and responsibility. It should never be approached lightly. But the choice to own a firearm, to protect home and family, is a right that must always be respected and protected.”
Kayne Robinson, NRA President
|If you have problems handling larger handguns or higher caliber firearms, there are several options worth considering. Remember, though, this short list is one of options and not recommendations.
S&W;’s new 351PD 7 shot 10.5 oz. revolver.25 ACP
Avoid this caliber.
Why? Low stopping power.
Beretta’s Tomcat pistol w/tip up barrel
KelTec’s P32 pistol, the lightest 32.380 ACP
Beretta’s 86 Cheetah pistol w/tip up barrel
KelTec’s new P3-AT, the lightest 380
S&W;’s Sigma 380, their only gun in this caliber