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Old January 26, 2014, 12:00 PM   #1
Willie Lowman
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Disarming the elderly

A good friend of mine lives with and cares for his grandmother. Her issues are numerous and she spends most of her time watching western movies on TV and waiting for her next meal.

Some months ago my friend brought his grandmother's .22 pistol and rifle to me asking that I keep them in my safe. He told me that it had become alarmingly common that when he would go out after dark to smoke a cigarette or come home from town with groceries or a pizza, she would greet him with a gun muzzle. A month or so after being disarmed, his grandmother began asking for her guns back and my friend returned them to her. Before he gave her guns back he removed all the ammunition from the house.


His very real concern is being shot by the old lady that he takes care of every day. After watching 14 straight hours of westerns, it seems she thinks any noise outside is Lee Van Cleef coming to steal her herd of horses.

Her very real concern is that she could not physically overcome a pair of energetic puppies let alone any ne'er do well that happened by.

I sympathize with her in wanting her guns when she is left alone. On that same note, I don't agree with giving them back to her given her mental state.

She has a right to bear arms. He has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which would include not getting shot by the old lady he was about to fix dinner for.


So, at what point do you say "sorry Grandpa/Grandma but you can't have your guns anymore."
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Old January 26, 2014, 12:12 PM   #2
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willie Lowman
So, at what point do you say "sorry Grandpa/Grandma but you can't have your guns anymore."
I'd say at the point your friend's grandmother reached -- when the elderly person is credibly judged to be a danger to him/herself or to others.
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Old January 26, 2014, 12:13 PM   #3
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You will know !!!

Quote:
So, at what point do you say "sorry Grandpa/Grandma but you can't have your guns anymore."
You will know when it's time and better yet, she will tell you. It's not always easy but most of the time, there way should be respected. We can't fix, anything but we should do our best to make it better. ..

Be Safe !!!
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Old January 26, 2014, 12:22 PM   #4
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You say 'sorry you can't have guns anymore' when a person reaches a state a physical or mental health in which having it would make them a danger to themselves and others. With the elderly, I would say it's pretty much at the same point they lose their driving privileges. If they are complaining their car doesn't always go or stop (because they a hitting the wrong pedal) time to take away the guns! It's not just physical ability--it's their judgement. Every year we read of elderly drivers committing vehicular manslaughter because they simply don't have good enough judgement to be driving, and in the last 3 months here where I live, there have been 2 fatal shootings by 80+ year old men. One was not very far from my house, in my neighborhood: an 81yr old man was having an argument with his female caretaker over her dog, shot her in the abdomen with a shotgun! The other recent one I won't go into details on because it was intended to be a murder/suicide and I actually sympathize with the 88yr old perpetrator (plus I don't want to start a assisted suicide argument).

Point is, there will eventually be a time for all of us when our physical and mental facilities will diminish, we just have to accept that means no longer doing the things we used to.
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Old January 26, 2014, 12:29 PM   #5
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Real tough decision for sure. There was an elderly lady (well into her 80s) that lived all alone about 7 miles from me that had some troubles one night with a couple of young hoodlums. They robed her and roughed her up a bit. She bought a 20 gauge single shot NEF from Wal-Mart and a box of birdshot. Her family was very concerned about her using the gun on the wrong person. A month later she was robbed again, by the same guys. One of them was carried out that night, by the Coroner. Her family let her keep that 20 gauge right up to the day she passed away, quietly in her home, as she always wanted.

I guess elderly gun ownership needs to be examined on a case by case basis? I’d hate to be the one that disarms a person and they need to be armed at a later date. But, there may come a time in anyone’s life that being armed could cause more problems then not being armed.
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Old January 26, 2014, 01:20 PM   #6
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An interesting dilemma. If a person is at a state where they should not be driving should they have access so guns? Depends if stopping driving is due to physical or mental issues. As Mike 38 states each case needs to be evaluated individually.
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Old January 26, 2014, 02:15 PM   #7
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We took the last of my grandpa's guns right after grandma passed away. It had never crossed his mind that he might out live her and he was making a lot of comments about how he did not want to stick around anymore without her. I was glad to have him for a few more years but it might have been kinder to have let him have his pistol, I will never know for sure.
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Old January 26, 2014, 02:47 PM   #8
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Case by case, absolutely.

And I wouldn't use the point of stopping driving as the yardstick. Although I would be a good point at which to seriously look at the situation.

One of the big differences about driving is that in addition to the physical ability, and the mental ability to make clear judgments, it also involves duration.

An elderly person who might not be able to manage an hr drive in traffic (half hour out, and then back) might be perfectly fine sitting at home with that shotgun in the corner, and quite capable of making both a rational decision and physical use of the gun, at the time needed.

It needs to be very much an individual situation determination. My Grandfather passed at 97, and up until the last two years of his life, was more lucid, cognizant, and competent than most of the people I have met in my entire life. His last years were not as good, and his grasp on current reality came and went. Not in the way that was a danger to anyone, he always knew right from wrong, right up to the end. He just had days when he didn't know it was the 1970s, not the 1930s....

Very MUCH an individual thing.

I know the time will come when I am in that boat (and its not as far away as it used to be...), but until such time as I clearly demonstrate I am irresponsible/incompetent, its my choice, and I thank you to leave it to me.

Just don't confuse being ornery, cantankerous, or even rude with being incapable of rational decisions. And meeting a stranger at the door in the night with a gun handy might just be prudent.

Now, if I shoot you, without good reason, that's another matter...

When it comes to the elderly, and having a gun for personal defense, I am more and more reminded of the song lyrics that say " I may not be as good as I once was, but I'm as good ONCE as I ever was..."

Not intended for self/home defense situations, but for some of us "seasoned citizens" it can apply....
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Old January 26, 2014, 03:39 PM   #9
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Frankly, I hope my guns are safely at my kids house by that point. I've had a couple of grandparents who over kept their driving privileges. Actually, they were pretty realistic about their capabilities, but still wanted their licenses.

At that point in life, right or wrong, people are much less concerned about living usually, so self defense should drop much lower on their priority list.

This just my experience, but if someone can take all your guns away for a while then you are probably ready to be without them, westerns or not.
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Old January 26, 2014, 08:00 PM   #10
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Disarming old folks:

I pray to God that I'll know when to give up my Drivers License before I need to be told and the same thing goes for Firearms License.

Everyone who comes to my home knows to announce them selves when they enter, or to call me first. I don't want my cats to eat someone without me knowing about it. It can ruin their feeding schedule.
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Old January 26, 2014, 11:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
And I wouldn't use the pointing stopping driving as the yardstick. Although it would be a good point at which to seriously look at the situation.
I completely agree (what I was trying to say), and agree it should be on a completely individual basis. There are those who body (tragically) declines before their mind (and vice versa).
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Old January 27, 2014, 07:24 AM   #12
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Take out the firing pin and let her have them back.
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Old January 27, 2014, 10:11 AM   #13
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s3779m
Quote:
Take out the firing pin and let her have them back.
I've heard of people taking firearms to gunsmiths and having them file down firing pins/strikers. A few bucks but peace of mind.
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Old January 27, 2014, 10:11 AM   #14
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i too believe driving is more of a loss of hand-eye coordination and does not mean a loss of judgement, my grandfather (a mathmatician and machinist) could def not drive a car before he passed at 95, but he was still the smartest and gentlest man i have ever met up until the day he kicked
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Old January 27, 2014, 10:14 AM   #15
Rifleman1776
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Comes a time in almost everyones life when others need to make decisions for them. Same with driving, using knives, going for walks alone, etc.
Taking the guns away is the responsible thing to do. Might be wise to call human services or some appropriate agency to assist with her care. Sad, but life is real.
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Old January 27, 2014, 10:57 AM   #16
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We finally took my dad's drivers license at age 95. He was falling asleep at the wheel. He wasn't into firearms but had access to them. That was not a concern.
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Old January 27, 2014, 11:33 AM   #17
Brian Pfleuger
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Originally Posted by Nathan View Post
At that point in life, right or wrong, people are much less concerned about living usually, so self defense should drop much lower on their priority list.

That's the most ridiculous thing I've read on this forum in a long time.
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Old January 27, 2014, 12:21 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan View Post
At that point in life, right or wrong, people are much less concerned about living usually, so self defense should drop much lower on their priority list.

Originally Posted by Brian Pfleuger:
That's the most ridiculous thing I've read on this forum in a long time

Agree.

Surely a case by case basis.

My dad lived his last twelve years with us passing at 79 yrs. old. He knew and accepted that the best part of his life was over but didn't want to rush leaving outta here. He remained just as vigilant about his SD as when he was younger and had remained safe with firearms till he passed.

I may have had to worry about him climbing on the tractor and taking too many chances getting too close to the ravines but he never gave me a reason to worry about his conduct with a weapon. If he would have given me reason's to doubt his competency with firearms, I would have been forced to deal with the situation, given things a lot of thought as to how to apply my decisions most tactfully but would not have prolonged my decisions.

Last edited by shortwave; January 27, 2014 at 12:32 PM.
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Old January 27, 2014, 12:45 PM   #19
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You say "Sorry Grandma" at the point that you are willing to, and just finished going to court and having her adjudicated mentally defective. Before that to take them against her wishes sounds an awful lot like firearms theft. Both sides of the gun control debate seem to lose this in the hype and slang, but Adjudicated Mentally Defective is far more than "nuts" "crazy" etc. And it's also far more than firearms specific. It can include other rights, as well. Voting, managing their own affairs i.e. finances to name a couple that will vary on a case by case and state by state basis more than likely.

One of the professional lawyers might have to correct any of this, but This link gives a very quick and barebones overview with a focus on Illinois. Here's another one http://www.bayareaelderlaw.com/main/...tiveissues.pdf

With that said, you can adapt this financial advice to the firearm, and ASK Grandma to surrender them. If Grandma is lucid enough to understand, there's probably a good chance, if not there's a process for doing it the right way.
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Old January 27, 2014, 01:24 PM   #20
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Quote:
I've heard of people taking firearms to gunsmiths and having them file down firing pins/strikers. A few bucks but peace of mind.
I've had arguments with people who've made that request. It is incredibly self-righteous, irresponsible, and dangerous.

What makes Junior qualified to determine that I'm not fit to own a gun? What gives him the right to take my property without my permission and sabotage it? No gunsmith should consent to such a procedure.

Furthermore, what happens if I do need the weapon? I don't want to imagine the consequences of pointing it at an intruder and pulling the trigger with no effect. I hope Junior has nice things to say at my funeral.
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Old January 27, 2014, 01:38 PM   #21
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This is a “Been there – done that”

Mom is now 88 years old and in a home.

More times than I care to mention I was greeted at the door by mom with a gun pointed at me. As she got older and feebler this occurred more often.

When she was 80 I moved her into my home as she was no longer able to live unassisted.

What finally convinced me things had gone further than I thought was when she greeted me one evening and did not recognize me at first glance.
I came in the house and going down the hall when she came from her room, gun in hand and did not recognize me.

This is when I took the gun away and started asking friends of hers lots of questions.

When an elderly person lives with you, you may not fully recognize how far along their alzheimer’s and dementia has progressed.

This was the case with mom.

She was sharp as a tack up till about 80 years old and slowly un-noticed by those close to her how far she had slipped into the world of the alzheimer’s and dementia
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Old January 27, 2014, 03:57 PM   #22
s3779m
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I've had arguments with people who've made that request. It is incredibly self-righteous, irresponsible, and dangerous.
Tom, she is pointing the guns at her grandson for opening the door. In my book this is a recipe for disaster. I guess a person can always ask "how dare you take away the keys" but sometimes it is the RIGHT thing to do.
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Old January 27, 2014, 03:57 PM   #23
Willie Lowman
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In my opinion

Quote:
What makes Junior qualified to determine that I'm not fit to own a gun?
That qualification is granted by Gramps. When Gramps produces a loaded firearm and threatens a known family member and caretaker, Junior has been qualified to determine if Gramps is fit to own a gun.

Know your target. It's one of the basic safety rules for firearm ownership. The words take on a different meaning in this case but they are just as important. If a elderly person looses the ability to tell their own children or grandchildren from the badguys on the TV, that person should not have a deadly weapon.

Quote:
What gives him the right to take my property without my permission and sabotage it? No gunsmith should consent to such a procedure.
I agree with this 100% There is a world of difference between saying "sorry you can't have this anymore" and tricking someone into thinking they have a working gun when they don't.


There is no standard rule for these situations. People have mentioned driving. Driving does not equal proper gun handling. I would trust my own grandmother with a loaded rifle but would not give her the keys to my car. I would trust my friend's grandmother (from my OP) to drive a large truck pulling a trailer but I will not give her ammunition for her pistol.
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Old January 27, 2014, 04:46 PM   #24
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That qualification is granted by Gramps. When Gramps produces a loaded firearm and threatens a known family member and caretaker, Junior has been qualified to determine if Gramps is fit to own a gun.
No, it hasn't, and no he isn't. You or I have no more right to take away the property of Gramps, than we do our adult children. "That qualification" rests solely with whatever judicial system the State government has provided. Junior gets to tell the Judge Gramps can't be trusted with a firearm anymore, but he is never qualified to make that decision for Gramps. The Honorable Somebody R. Other has that qualification.
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Old January 27, 2014, 06:39 PM   #25
Willie Lowman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATF
27 C.F.R. § 478.11, define these terms as follows:
Adjudicated as a mental defective.

(1) A determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that a person, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease:

Is a danger to himself or to others; or
Lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs.
JimDandy, you are right that only the Honorable Judge Whatshisname has that authority. That being said, I don't think many people would go to court over what would be seen as a private family matter.

That's why I started this conversation in Law and Civil Rights!
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