One of my good college buddies called me the other day to get my advice about his grandpa. Seems the old guy has become quite protective of his 1911 at the ripe old age of 85. Even though he lacks the dexterity, eyesight, or strength to use it, he insists on having it around “just in case.” The family worries that he’ll accidentally kill somebody whilst handling it. With my friend’s mom there every other weekend, they’ve begun a game of cat and mouse where she hides the gun and takes the ammo on Sunday before she leaves. He then spends all week searching for it (usually finding it on Wednesday) and buying more ammo. So I’ll put it to you: should he get to keep his gun? In what circumstance(s) would you advocate a gun free house for the old guy?

Recommended For You

46 Responses to Question of the Day: Should Gramps Get to Keep His Gun?

  1. If you make his house gun free are you willing to assume responsibility for his safety? Install an alarm? Buy him a Doberman? Move him to your house or live in his home?
    I agree he’s probably not able to use a 1911 properly, but his “just in case” shows him to be aware that at 85 the Colt might level the playing field for him, despite the obvious problems. Disarming him guarantees that he will feel defenseless.

    Split the difference and remove the firing pin. He probably won’ t realize it. And then get him an alarm system/Pit Bull.

    • Remove the firing pin? What an idiot. Yea, he won’t notice the big hole under the hammer. The man is old, not stupid.

      Get the man a weapon he can use without trouble. A DA revolver or maybe a break action shotgun.

      Disarming him is disrespectful and not right.

      Leaving him with an intentionally non-functional gun while leading him to believe it is functional should be criminal.

  2. That is just sick. Who in the hell told the ‘mom’ its her decision to decide whether the grandpa has the ability to defend himself with a firearm or not. WTF!

    • The question is not whether someone has the right to defend himself with a firearm but whether he’s able to do so. Young or old, one should have to qualify including testing, training and screening.

      Since, you guys have been so successful in keeping the common sense controls pretty much blocked, cases like this should be handled within the family. I’d like to see the day when everyone needs a license to own a gun and that license would need periodic renewal. But, since we’re a ways from that happy day, the family members need to put aside their biases and remove guns from their elderly relatives as soon as they become incapacitated by old age.

      • thank God we don’t need a license to exercise our First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Amendment rights.

      • “The question is not whether someone has the right to defend himself with a firearm”

        I know a few “Men in Black” that would disagree with you.

      • When you submit to “common sense” restrictions on your First Amendment rights and let me determine when, where, how, and to what degree you may exercise them, we can discuss the Second.

        Until then, thank God folks who share your “common sense view” (aka, let ME tell YOU how you get to enjoy your freedom today) are in a shrinking minority.

      • This is easily the most inane comment I’ve seen in these particular hallways of the Interwebs. Congrats Mike, that’s saying a lot.

        • C’mon guys, you’re being unreasonable. When someone has a condition that renders them incapable of safely handling a gun, what do you suggest?

          Why do half of you have to refer to the 1st Amendment to make an argument about the 2nd?

  3. My 93 yr old grandfather refused to move into a nursing home after my grandmother (his wife of almost 75 yrs) passed away. We didn’t think he could take care of himself and as the only close relative nearby (and since I was his attorney anywayu), I became his legal guardian. I repeatedly suggested he move into a nursing home to which he replied “fuck off” (not only was I named after him but I developed his love of profanity). We hired a caregiver who moved into the family flat upstairs. She cooked and cleaned for him and I visited him 2-3x per weeks. We took away his drivers’ license to stop him from driving. He took the bus to get a new one. We took away his car. He bought a used one. Finally, We also cut a deal: when he could no longer get up and out of bed, and move around, then it was off to a nursing home. For 2 yrs, he hung on. But then at 95, he admitted it was time to go into a home with better care and staff.

    Perhaps your friend’s mom should go to the range with him during one of her visits and cut a deal with him: when he can’t hit the target at say 5 yrds, he has to give up the 1911. He will be happy and she will know that eventually, she will get to stop hiding the ammo.

  4. If he’s clever enough to find the gun (and get his hands on some ammo) he’s clever enough to keep it!

    The beauty of this situation is the involvement of the family. They know their father better than anyone else and so they should make the call – when the time comes. Each family is different and so each family should come to their own agreement.

    A good way to prevent all the wrangling would be to establish a protocol well in advance, with input from the gun owner, of course – perhaps in a living will. My wife and I discussed and agreed upon the big issues like money and children before we married and this helped prevent a great deal of discord later.

  5. This is like asking when gramps has to give up the keys to the car. Sure, he can find the keys, but can he still drive the car safely?

    “Even though he lacks the dexterity, eyesight, or strength to use it, he insists on having it around “just in case.” The family worries that he’ll accidentally kill somebody whilst handling it.”

    The answer might just lie in this statement. Is Grandpa violating any of the 4 rules continuously as a result of age (specifically placing his finger on the trigger and pointing the gun at people)? If the answer is yes, then it is probably time to take the gun away, just like it would be time to take the car keys away if every trip almost resulted in a wreck.

  6. I’ve seen 80 year-olds safely handle and operate handguns and 25 year-olds scare the crap out of me with them.

    As long as the old fella’ is observing the 4 cardinal rules, can operate it safely, and isn’t fading into dementia or Alzheimer’s – stop playing games with the guy’s pistol.

    If his mental faculties are in decline or he’s waving it around without regard for others, there may be reason to take gramps out of the house or get him some help.

    What IS going to get someone hurt is the constant finger&$#^!ng of a loaded gun while Mom continues to play hide-and-seek. Maybe someone should start doing the same with her Redbook and the keys to her minivan.

  7. When my dad was 80, he said he wanted a Glock. At the time he had a Browning Hi Power and had trouble manipulating it. I talked it over with a good friend/mentor who had a similar issue with his dad. He suggested a revolver. I had an old BUG in the safe that had a smooth/light double action only trigger so I went to dad with that. He was able to manipulate/shoot it just fine and since he still had his wits/faculties about him at the time, we went with that compromise. Unfortunately, a year or so later, his mind started to go. He recognized the problem and I went over one day and he handed the gun back to me.

  8. Only if he still can plausibly recognize a threat. My grandfather started thinking things that a combination of paranoia, alzheimers and a .38 snub made into a threat for anyone in the house. I avoided him for my safety, something I partially regret but not enough to risk being dressed down by someone who may not recognise me as family.

  9. Should grandpa get to keep his gun!? Are we that hypocritical? “I’m going to disarm you now for your own safety”, says the Stasi Officer. Oh, but it’s okay when we say it because we’re benevolent and actually looking out for grandpa’s well-being. We know what’s best for him.

    Anyone who advocates the forcible removal of another person’s God-given rights is no friend of freedom and does not understand natural law! By what authority can one decide, without the other’s consent, to take away something that God has given?

    • “Should grandpa get to keep his gun!? Are we that hypocritical?”

      No, not at all. This isn’t any different than taking away the car keys before he drives into a crowd of people.”

      “Anyone who advocates the forcible removal of another person’s God-given rights is no friend of freedom and does not understand natural law!”

      I can tell you what is natural. Getting old and loosing certain abilities. It varies from person to person. Some maybe quite fine untill death at an advance age. Others can become a danger to themselves and others.

      I don’t know this gentelman. I certainly wish him the best and his family acts wisely for him.

      • If he had never driven into a crowd of people, I wouldn’t advotate taking away his car keys without his consent either.

        The premise of the general question, and your response to my comment in particular, is that we somehow have a say in what other people do with their lives and property. That is the same premise of our current nanny-state and you’ve bought into it hook, line, and sinker.

        One must be judged by his actions, not his supposed potential to do harm. The Brady bunch would say something similar… “Take away all their guns before they shoot up a crowd of people.”

        • “If he had never driven into a crowd of people, I wouldn’t advotate taking away his car keys without his consent either.”

          Be it a gun or car.

          “One must be judged by his actions”

          I agree. If the actions are unsafe, I would relieve the person of gun or car before somebody gets hurt.

          Nothing to do with Brady Bunch or Nanny Government.

  10. Just got back from hunting. One of our capable and successful hunting party is 85. It’s all about mental capability/situational awareness. If you take the firearm(s) away from an independent man who is still situational aware due to age, you better be prepared to fully take care of their every need including planning their funeral.

  11. It’s all about making sure Gramps can still handle it safely. Like others have said, take him to the range and make sure he can hit a target at a reasonable distance. If a .45 is too much for him right now, see if you can fine a 9mm or other size conversion kit, something in a size he can handle. Besides the weekly/bi-weekly/monthly/etc. trips to the range will give your college buddy a chance to hang out with Gramps some more while he can. Mine passed away last year and if he hadn’t lived so far away it would have been something we could have done.

  12. “Common Sense” rules. If he isn’t competent enough to handle a gun, he probably isn’t competent enough to live on his own and vice versa.

  13. I’m confused. Did he do something unsafe with the gun?If not, then why are we talking about this? The man needs a safe to keep his gun away from his kids (regardless of age). End of discussion.

  14. So is this grandpa loosing his sense of judgement and firearm safety or is he just physically feeble? I would not be comfortable with him if he started muzzling everybody in the room, but even if he is very weak he should be able to defend himself properly. My grandfather is becoming feeble as well, but his mind is tack sharp and he can easily hit a human sized target from 10 meters away (with one hand).

  15. I’ve found that, as an adult, the only thing I can take away from my parents that gives them pause is me. If I don’t like the circumstances by which my visits to mom happen, I stop the visits and I tell her why. For example:

    “Dad, I don’t feel safe when you have your 1911 out. I think you’ve lost some of the ability to safely use it. I’m scared someone might get hurt – maybe me, maybe you, maybe the grandkids. I can’t take that risk. Until we come to a solution I, and the grandkids, can’t come to visit. Let me know what you decide.”

    Yeah, I know it sucks to cut granddad out, but if you’re worried about the wrong end of a bullet, it seems a small price to pay. Plus, this puts the decision in grandpa’s hands. It might not seem so devastating to give up his pistol if he can’t do so on his own accord.

    Last, I don’t support disarming grandpa. I do support arming him with a weapon that is a little more forgiving of the occasional mishandling. More specifically, gets him that revolver.

  16. *deleted due to double post*

    Also, “… can do so of his own accord.”

    I gotta quit posting from my phone…

  17. Take him to the goddamn range. Thats a no brainier.

    If he’s 85, hes probably a WWII vet. Which means he probably knows how to use a .45 a damn sight better than people think he does.

    If he cant work the gun (1911’s have a pretty stiff spring) you could always smooth the action up a little (Polish and a dremmel tool and some good oil), throw a lighter recoil spring and some lighter .45 loads, and he ought to be able to manipulate it just fine.

    Hiding the gun and the ammo is fucked up. Either let him use it or take it away. Thats a bullshit solution from some one with a weak spine.

  18. Buy Gramps a six shooter, that way he doesn’t have to fumble around with the 1911 when “just in case” happens.
    He’ll have piece of mind and be able to use it without too much fuss.

  19. I would say, disarm not lest ye be disarmed yourself. I can remember a few occasions of reading a story where an old man through much effort has protected himself from invaders because he was armed. although it may wind them for a few hours handling their piece, it is still their right.

  20. My grandfather died at the age of 76 (cancer) during his a bout of chemo that wrecked his energy and stamina he recert’d his CHL with his 70’s era revolver. This was the gun he had always used and carried, also a life long member of the NRA. My aunt (former Sherriff) drove him since his eye sight wasn’t great, not blind but he had trouble reading signs. Anyway long story short he put everyone in that class to shame nail driving his target. My point being as long as he can hold the weapon, you might have to pry it out of some cold hands. My grandfather died at home in his bed, his last words were “I love you.” to his wife and my grandmother and his revolver was still sitting loaded in his nightstand, too weak to move he was still ready to defend what he loved most.

    RIP Dr. Jim Palmer

  21. YES!! Let the man have it; if he is not senile, let the man have his 1911! When the mugger comes, he needs a loaded and ready gun, not hidden ammo. Tell those who do not like it to shove it and leave him be.
    Should we disarm you for having a differing thought of cars?

    • I meant to say that he needs ammo at-the-ready and should you be denied driving privileges just because you dislike Chevy, but the guy at the DMV worships the names of Louis Chevrolet and Durant? No, you should not.
      Even if the man is senile, it’s his Second Amendment right to have a gun. If you do not like it, take yourself elsewhere!

  22. No one has the right to disarm this gentleman as long as he still has his mental faculties. As long as his mind is clear, HE is the only one who gets to decide whether to be armed or not..

  23. It seems that he’s still capable of getting to the store for more ammo so he must not be too mentally disabled. If, however, his cognitive skills have deteriorated to the point where he is a danger to himself or others, but he can still function well enough to be on his own, I suggest this:
    The next time the friend “borrows” the pistol, someone needs to grind down the firing pin so that it cannot protrude from the aperture. As an added precaution, the ammo should be deactivated by pulling the bullets, dumping the powder, then soaking the cases in light oil for several days before reloading the bullets. Perhaps the store where he buys the cartridges can be of assistance. After everything is confirmed to be inoperative, put the items back where he can easily find them.
    The old man will enjoy the sense of comfort and security that his handgun provides without endangering the lives of family or neighbors.
    This procedure may also require that those who are concerned about him come by the house on a much more frequent, but irregular, basis to help alleviate the worry that they’ve left grandpa vulnerable to a home invasion or robbery.

  24. If he’s still mentally intact nobody has the right to make decisions like that for him. Give the man the respect he deserves. Maybe suggest a gun he can attach a light to to help with his eye sight.

  25. I had to deal with this with my grandmother. She was starting to show signs of mental deteriation when we got her to move to an assisted living home. She didn’t want to give up her .38. If she hadn’t been showing signs of dementia, I would have let her sneak it in. I think if this man is still mentally sound, he deserves the right to keep his gun. As said above, perhaps get him something more simple to run. Like my late grandmothers .38.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *