Guns and Gear

CCW Weekend: Could Dementia Become A Criteria For Gun Seizure?

REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Guns and Gear Contributor
Font Size:

By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

Believe it or not, it’s a good idea for an elderly person to have a concealed carry permit, along with a pistol to pack and a concealed carry holster. A person at a physical disadvantage needs all the edge they can get, and an older person is definitely at a disadvantage to a 19-year-old criminal.

However, a problem there is that as more people live into their 80s and 90s, more people are developing a form of dementia in the last years of their life. Just as some states are requiring a driving test to keep one’s license, could the elderly eventually have their guns seized?

The mechanism exists at law already, in that people that are adjudicated mentally unstable can have their firearms rights suspended. Due process is required, of course, and dementia combined with the infirmity of old age can certainly serve as grounds for declaring a person unfit. Additionally, a few states – Texas and Hawaii – have laws regarding firearms and those suffering from dementia.

Make no mistake, however, that a person with cognitive deficiencies access to firearms is probably not in their best interest nor that of society at large.

Some of us might remember the episode of “The Sopranos” where Uncle Junior believes Tony is in fact a rival mobster and shoots him.

Granted, it’s just a TV show (some contend among the best ever made) and in any case the character of Junior Soprano would certainly have cause to be paranoid. What happens in the movies and on TV doesn’t happen in real life, after all.

Except that sometimes it does.

An 88-year-old Chicago man with dementia was arrested this March, according to the Miami Herald, after shooting a 20-year-old woman in the leg. Granted, what role his dementia played in it isn’t known; she is a prostitute and the two began to argue about the $20 he promised to pay her.

Never mind what for.

On May 11, an elderly man took a gun into an elementary school in Fultondale, Ala., according to WBRC. He believed it was an outdoor store.

In Nov. 2017, according to the Daytona News Bulletin, 75-year-old Emilio Navarez was arrested after firing several shots into the ground at a neighbor’s home in Deltona, Fla. Patrick De La Cerda, Navarez’s neighbor, heard someone outside and opened the door to find Navarez waving a gun around. Navarez started shooting into the ground. De La Cerda reported that Navarez fired his gun fairly often, just never off his own property.

Other incidents are more tragic, such as a 2009 incident in Portland Ore., when a 92-year-old man suffering from dementia shot his son and daughter, according to Oregon Live. His daughter’s 12-year-old son was found hiding in a bedroom. Police found the man’s son outside, shot in the chest, while his daughter lay on the couch, shot in the head. Worse still, police had to shoot her dog to be able to transport her to the hospital as it refused to let them near her. Unfortunately, her wounds proved fatal.

There isn’t exactly a universal protocol for this, but there are a few recommended steps to be taken around a loved one that develops dementia and observing proper firearm safety.

It’s recommended that if a family member is suffering from dementia, all ammunition be removed from the house and any firearms placed in a safe. Any caregivers should make sure that the person suffering dementia cannot access them. It’s also a good idea to have an inheritance or other plan in place for firearms collections if dementia or cognitive decline is on the horizon.

This may require some delicacy, as people can feel infantilized if their firearms are removed in front of them, so care must be taken in this regard. After all, everyone’s rights and dignity should be respected, no matter what age they may be.

Click here to get your 1911 Pistol Shopping Guide.

Click here to get The Complete Concealed Carry Training Guide

Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit