Image via Pixabay
I’ve said time and again that I think people should lock up their guns when unneeded. Of course, my definition of “need” is a bit more elastic than many people’s. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to keep an unlocked firearm within reach. As I write this, I’ve got one right next to me. I need it because someone might decide to commit suicide by burglary.
A lot of older Americans also keep guns handy in case they’re needed. That idea freaks some in the media out completely.
Almost 39 percent of the more than 4,400 seniors they surveyed in Washington state said they had a firearm in their home. Nearly a quarter said they keep at least one gun loaded and unlocked. Fewer than a third said they keep all firearms locked up and unloaded.
These unsafe practices make suicide easier and endanger kids and visitors, researchers said.
“Findings of this study highlight the importance of addressing access to firearms among older adults, especially those who display signs of dementia or suicide risk factors,” said senior researcher Dr. Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, an associate professor of epidemiology.
Every year, about 10,000 older Americans are wounded by firearms, he said. About 6,500 die of their injuries. And the risk of suicide is greater among older adults than among any other group. “We know that the overwhelming majority of firearm deaths among older adults are suicides,” Rowhani-Rahbar said.
Survey respondents who had guns in their home were more likely to be white, male and married. Men in rural areas and military veterans were more likely to keep their weapons unlocked and loaded.
That’s because veterans understand the reality of the threats they face.
Look, locking a gun up will not stop the gun owner from committing suicide. They know how to unlock the firearm in the first place. Pretending it will is ridiculous. Claims that it may by precious seconds for them to reconsider their actions show little understanding of what depression is like. People rarely get that spontaneous when planning to commit suicide.
Further, I find the argument that “kids and visitors” are endangered to be absurd. There’s no evidence presented supporting that claim and, honestly, I’m skeptical it came out of anywhere but the researchers’ rectums.
Look, visitors don’t ordinarily go plundering through someone’s nightstand. Kids who are visiting don’t either, by and large. While kids tend to want to explore, if they’ve been raised properly, they know where to confine their explorations. If not, then they don’t need to be permitted to roam freely while they visit. Most people understand this.
As for the numbers of people wounded by firearms each year, what Rowhani-Rahbar fails to note here is how many of those injured are through negligent practices with their own guns and how many are wounded by attackers. That matters a great deal. If 10,000 are injured through the actions of others, then no wonder some aren’t locking up their guns.
One thing people need to understand, even those who call for everyone to lock their guns up, is that no two people have the same situation. Laws and research that tries to pretend they do aren’t helpful.
If a senior is a legitimate threat to themselves or others, use the legal system already in place to deal with it. Don’t pretend that senior citizens are a ticking timebomb to score some political points. It’s disgusting.