Though more awareness about gun safety and elderly people is needed, we hope we have given you some insight into this issue and sparked some discussion. Today, we offer some specific tips for gun safety at home for your elderly parents.
Five steps you should take today if your aging parent has a gun at home to help ensure continued gun safety:
- Discuss it. First, find out if your parent has a gun (or guns) in the home. A large number of guns are inherited or given to elderly people, so you may be surprised to find out there is a gun in the home. If you know there is a gun/guns, find out where and how they are stored. Discuss any concerns you might have (now and in the future).
- Talk about why your elderly parent wants to have the gun at home. Is Mom worried about security? If so, there are a lot of good (maybe better) options for security at home. Our expert guest speaker on gun safety from the Largo Police Department shared suggestions with us, such as noise-making devices, personal emergency response systems, cell phones, a bell to indicate if the entry has been breached, sprays, key fobs, etc. Especially if children will be in the home, the gun and ammunition need to be stored separately anyway, which means it is unlikely to be much help in the case of an intruder. Sometimes elders wish to have a gun in the case they’d want to commit suicide. We hear this at times, though some aging parents may not share this information with children. But, if they do, it can open up a discussion about their feelings and concerns.
- Explore planning options. Talk to your loved one about “what if” scenarios. An estate planning attorney should be able to set up a special gun trust, for easier transfer of firearms and clear instructions in the event of incapacity or death.
- Ensure safekeeping and handling of the gun and ammunition. How and where is the gun stored? Is ammunition kept separately? Who might gain access to the gun? Local law enforcement can hold a gun temporarily for safe keeping if there’s an immediate safety issue and can make sure firearms are safe for someone to handle (removing magazine, unloading).
- Know who to contact if you need help. Local law enforcement has some limitations in what they can do, but they are your best resource when immediate gun safety issues arise. Make sure you know the non-urgent number of your local jurisdiction. Geriatric care managers can help with care planning and creative solutions, as well as the process of discussing your concerns. We can refer you to an estate planning attorney who can help set up a gun trust.