As incidents of gun violence and terrorism are becoming more common, many U.S. citizens are opting to protect themselves and loved ones by invoking their Second Amendment right to purchase and possess firearms. And many of these people are interested in carrying that protection with them outside of the home. One particular population is arming themselves in higher numbers than most others—seniors. According to the National Institutes of Health, in Kansas between 2006 and 2010, 31% of applicants for permits to carry a concealed weapon were 60 years or older, and Ohio and Arizona also have noted an increase in elderly people applying for concealed weapons. If you are a senior who is interested in arming yourself outside of the home, here's what you need to know to do so legally, safely and effectively.
Know your Abilities and Vulnerabilities
You understand that aging has taken a toll on your physical abilities. Your movements have slowed, your strength and dexterity are diminished, and you likely have some vision and hearing loss. These effects of aging make you less able to react quickly and effectively to certain situations. Because of this, you likely feel more vulnerable to people who might harm you. You feel that arming yourself will level the playing field and help protect you and your possessions.
Although a handgun can provide a certain amount of protection, it can also add certain dangers as well. The physical conditions that make you vulnerable can also affect your ability to properly and safely use a gun. Mental conditions such as memory loss and diminished or slowed cognitive processing can also affect your reactions in stressful situations like these. That's why taking the necessary steps and training to get a concealed carry permit is so important. You will undergo a background check and may need to provide health information. If you go through a certified gun safety training course, which many states require, your instructor will be able provide additional support and recommendations—or even recommend not getting a weapon in some situations. Also, make sure a responsible family member knows of your intentions to carry so he or she can provide an objective opinion.
Understand the Rules
There is no all-encompassing federal concealed carry law. Every state has its own requirements and regulations. You will need to contact your state to determine what is and is not allowed and what is required for applying for a concealed carry license. If you travel to another state or states, you need to be aware of and comply with those states' laws as well.
Get the Right Equipment
Carrying a concealed weapon is not easy or convenient. You need to do your research to find a gun and carrying method that suits you the best. Consult with your gun safety instructor, and visit several firearms dealers, especially those that understand the limitations and needs of elderly shooters. You'll need to determine the size and weight of handgun that you can comfortably carry and hold steady while aiming. You'll need one that you can load easily if you have limited dexterity and one that has the right trigger pull if you have limited strength in your trigger finger.
Never carry a gun in your belt or pocket as it can be seen, fall out or accidentally discharge. A cross-draw shoulder holster is often one of the most comfortable for seniors and provides quick and easy access to the firearm. If maneuvering in and out of shoulder straps is difficult for you, a clip on holstering system will secure the gun to the inside of your waistband in an easy-to-reach position. You may need to make some adjustments or customizations, but with a little searching and talking with experts, you should be able to get the right carrying system for your needs.
Personal safety is everyone's right, and if you choose to arm yourself to protect that right, you need to understand the rules, regulations, risks and consequences of doing so. Use the proper equipment and learn how to use it properly for your safety and the safety of those around you. Carrying a firearm is your right as a U.S. citizen, but it is a right that comes with certain important responsibilities.