Newsweek poll floats gun bans for senior citizens

AP Photo/Haven Daley

Last week, when reporting on the state of Tennessee’s decision to stop defending its ban on concealed carry for adults under the age of 21, I wrote that “given the fact that the suspects in the Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay shootings were in their 70s and 60s, respectively, I wonder if we’ll see gun prohibitionists try to bar all senior citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights as well. According to the anti-gun crowd, adults can be too young to own a gun, after all, so why wouldn’t they also contend that we age out of our right to keep and bear arms when we’re eligible for a Social Security check?”


Well, we haven’t seen legislation to that effect yet, but Newsweek has actually conducted a poll on the idea, so maybe we’re not far away.

A majority of Americans think there should be a maximum age requirement for the purchase of firearms, though they don’t agree on the age, according to an exclusive poll run by Redfield & Wilton Strategies on behalf of Newsweek.

The poll—conducted between January 28 and 29 among a sample of 1,500 eligible U.S. voters—found 52 percent of respondents supported the imposition of a maximum age requirement for the purchase of firearms. Among these, 20 percent of respondents thought the age limit should be set at 60, while 16 percent said that it should be set at 70. Some 11 percent of respondents said the maximum age limit should be set at 80, while 6 percent said it should be set at 90.

Now, legally speaking, this idea is going nowhere. Courts around the country are already finding laws that bar adults younger than 21 from keeping and bearing arms to be a violation of their constitutional rights, and there’s no way that prohibiting a 60-year-old from doing the same is going to be upheld, either under the Bruen test of text, history, and tradition or even the tiered scrutiny test that lower courts adopted after the Heller decision.

This is a political non-starter as well. There were more than 40-million voters over the age of 60, and that’s a big voting bloc to single out and strip of their Second Amendment right to acquire a firearm for self-defense. That might not stop the most ardent anti-gun politicians from introducing legislation to that effect, but even most Democrats are going to shy away from specifically targeting senior citizens and the elderly.


From a moral perspective this is unconscionable. We just covered a story about an 80-year old Chicago man who was able to defend himself against two home invaders because he had a gun. Denying some of the most vulnerable members of society the ability to effectively protect themselves would be a moral abomination.

Practically speaking, it’s downright silly. If the idea is that someone is too old enough to have a gun, what do you do with the millions of Americans over the age of 60 who already own one or more? And what happens when someone reaches the arbitrarily-determined age when they supposedly lose their Second Amendment rights? Surely if someone is too old to buy a gun they would be too old to own one, so who gets to go around telling Meemaw and Pawpaw to hand them all over? And what happens when Meemaw says no?

It’s a fundamentally unserious idea, so it’s pretty disturbing that 52% of respondents supported it to one degree or another. And this isn’t the only recent poll to show that a large number of Americans are clinging to the idea that inhibiting and infringing on a fundamental right is okay, as long as politicians tell them they’ll be safer as a result.

Twice as many likely voters think it’s more important to control gun ownership than it is to protect gun rights, according to a survey released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

In the poll, those surveyed were asked what they thought was “more important — protecting the right of Americans to own guns, or controlling gun ownership.”

Likely voters favored gun control overwhelmingly, by 66% to 34%.

Every demographic group agreed strongly except Republicans, 78% of whom favored gun rights. Among Democrats, 87% thought gun control was more important.

Voters in the largely rural Central Valley were more closely divided, opting for gun control by only 51% to 48%. But in urban Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, a lopsided 74% of voters wanted gun control.

One significant finding was that support for gun regulation has greatly increased in the last decade, according to PPIC polling. In 2013, voters were split almost evenly — 49% thought gun control was more important and 48% favored gun rights.

“There have been so many incidents where people have witnessed terrible tragedies, so many mass shootings,” says PPIC Survey Director Mark Baldassare.

“The growing consensus is we’re not doing enough — even in California, where we’re doing a lot.”


It’s not that California isn’t doing enough, it’s that it’s doing a lot of the wrong thing; placing more and more restrictions on legal gun owners while closing prisons and giving violent offenders light sentences despite the fact that violent crime has been increasing. Gavin Newsom’s biggest priority right now is prohibiting those who’ve already been approved by the state to carry a concealed firearm from being able to do so almost anywhere. Meanwhile, felons convicted of violent crimes are getting slaps on the wrist, even when they’re once again caught with a gun.

Court documents show the extensive criminal history of 23-year-old Nathaniel Dixon of Selma, the man accused of shooting and killing 24-year-old Selma Police Officer, Gonzalo Carrasco Jr., on Tuesday.

According to the court documents in 2019 Dixon was convicted of second-degree felony robbery. He was in jail until July 2020 and then released on probation.

Sheriff’s Office officials say a month after his release, Dixon was re-arrested for carrying a loaded gun and possession of drugs. The drug charge qualified for zero-dollar bail, which meant that he only had to put up $10,000 on the other charge.

On August 19, 2020, Dixon was arrested again for five felonies and one misdemeanor, according to court documents. Those charges included possession of meth, being a felon with a firearm, and resisting a police officer. Dixon stayed in Jail until April 2022 when he was transferred to the state prison. Due to credits for time served and Assembly Bill 109, Dixon was released on probation.

Once Dixon was released, the Sheriff’s Office says he was put on probation. In November 2022 he spent two weeks in jail for a violation, then he was released.


None of California’s gun control laws stopped Dixon from allegedly getting ahold of one and shooting Officer Carrasco, despite his status as a convicted violent felon. But the soft-on-crime policies enacted by Newsom and supported by large numbers of Californians put Dixon back on the streets when he would still have been behind bars otherwise. Dixon got more than five years in prison, but did less than five months.

Both the Newsweek poll and the survey from PPIC show that Second Amendment supporters have our work cut out for us in the court of public opinion. Yes, we’ve got several good decisions from the actual Supreme Court on our side, but it’s far better to stop bad bills from becoming bad laws in the first place, and that means we have to continue making our case; not just in favor of the Second Amendment, but pointing out the fundamental flaws inherent in the anti-gunners’ ideology.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member