“Sheriff’s officials say an 83-year-old Florida man fatally shot a woman after her daughter and brother-in-law knocked on his front door while searching for a missing dog,” abcnews.go.com reports. “Manatee County Sheriff’s officials tell local news outlets Eugene Matthews opened the door about 7 p.m. Tuesday and started firing a handgun. The bullets struck 64-year-old Rebecca Rawson who had stayed in the car parked outside. She was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.”
While we don’t know the whole story, let’s assume the killer was an elderly gentleman who’d become addled, mistaking the knock on his door for a lethal threat. This kind of mental confusion and degradation is hardly unusual for people reaching the end of their lives. (It was, in fact, my father’s greatest fear.) Should the shooter have had access to a firearm?
Don’t get me wrong. All Americans have a natural, civil and constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, regardless of their age. The government has no right to take an American’s firearm until that person has been proven to be a danger to themselves or others. And maybe not even if they’re suicidal.
And there are plenty of 83-year-olds who are very physically and mentally fit. Ninety-year-olds, too. But there may come a time in your life, or the lives of your parents or other loved ones, when old age has taken its toll to the point where it’s time to put the gun down. How do you know when that is? If it were your parent, would you insist? How?