Granny Gets Her Gun! Fearing Crime, Senior Gun Ownership Skyrockets

WSJ

(Photo: WSJ)

In 1950, Americans couldn’t get enough of the hit Technicolor musical Annie Get Your Gun. Sixty years later,Granny, get your gun!” might be more common to hear around town.

As the Wall Street Journal reported this week, gun ownership and usage among senior citizens has risen dramatically over the past five years.

Over 22,000 people aged 65 and older took basic firearm training courses from NRA-certified instructors in 2015, reported an NRA spokesman. That number is four times greater than it was five years ago and represents a significantly higher growth rate than the overall average.

Wall Street Journal reporters accompanied residents of the Austintown Senior Center on one of their recent trips to the gun range. One member of the group, 63-year-old Phyllis Engler, a recently retired physical education teacher, was pleased with her debut. “I have arthritis in my shoulder so it was hard holding [the pistol] out, but I think with practice I’ll be fine.”

She planned to buy a pistol and apply for a concealed-carry permit. She had a message for criminals: “They better not mess with the women of Austintown.”

The WSJ also spoke with gun store owners around the country to get a sense of why senior citizens are purchasing more firearms: “Many dealers and older people around the country said personal safety was the priority,” the article reported.

According to the owner of Black Wing Shooting Center in Delaware, Ohio, knowing how to shoot gives older people, “a sense of security and safety. It’s a great equalizer in this crazy world we live in.”

Miles Hall, owner of H&H Shooting in Oklahoma City, agreed: “Today’s buyers are scared,” he said.

Personal defense isn’t the only concern. Older Americans, like the rest of the country, fear that federal regulations will prohibit firearm purchasing in the future. Target shooting—a hobby without the physical demands of golf or tennis—is an additional motivation.

But not everyone believes senior citizens have business at the range.

David Hemenway, a professor of health policy at Harvard University, said “the evidence is pretty strong that [owning a gun] isn’t going to help you” because shooting an intruder or assailant is difficult. “Your heart starts beating like crazy,” he said. “If they’re running at you, you have half a second or something.”

What did Hemenway recommend instead? “Get a dog, get a good lock, get good neighbors, get a cellphone,” he said.

Hemenway wasn’t clear whether seniors should beat their assailants with the cellphone or use it to play solitaire while they wait for the police to arrive. Either way, Hemenway clearly doesn’t believe seniors can be trusted with a firearm in a life-threatening situation.

The distinguished Harvard professor may be surprised to learn that seniors can—and do–learn how to use their firearms safely and effectively. The Austintown shooting club provides a great example, as does Stephen Eyler, who, after purchasing a Glock for himself and his wife, immediately signed up for shooting lessons.

The Eylers purchased their firearms because they worried about random shootings, people with mental problems and “radicals,” Mr. Eyler said: “You see it on the news almost every day.”

Owning a firearm gives the Eylers a way to defend themselves and, unlike Prof. Hemenway’s recommendation, ensures they won’t be victims in an encounter with a criminal.

(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Jordan Michaels.)

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • davud April 10, 2016, 12:42 am

    *** Owning a firearm gives the Eylers a way to defend themselves and, unlike Prof. Hemenway’s recommendation, ensures they won’t be victims in an encounter with a criminal. ***

    gun ownership doesn’t ensure someone won’t be a victim, but it does ensure a fighting chance.

  • John April 10, 2016, 12:39 am

    When I was 63, my house was broken into and ransacked while my wife and I were working. Never had any weapons in the house as my wife felt that there was too much opportunity for bad outcomes while the kids were at home. Now, at 66, I have a new door, new locks, two german shepherds, four hand guns, and a permit to carry. I have also found a new hobby I enjoy tremendously and have started reloading – an experiment in frustration and learning. Grandpa has a gun and hopes to never point it at anything but paper. I would recommend that people that write responses keep to the point, be civil, and refrain from referring to anatomically impossible positions lest we (gun owners) provide the ammunition to paint us all as . . . well . . . you know all to well what.

  • Holster House USA April 8, 2016, 12:21 pm

    Top of the line Concealment Holsters!

  • Robert Pagan April 8, 2016, 7:50 am

    I am a retired psychology professor ( and Viet Nam veteran) and couldn’t disagree more with Dr. Hemenway. I will take my chances with a loaded CZ SPO1 next to my bed. We have lost a sense of self reliance in our country…..calling 911 is futile when a psychopath is in your home.

    • USNVET April 8, 2016, 7:50 pm

      Dialing 911 is as effective as dial a prayer as the police arrive hours /days after the crime to take a report

      Ask the HELLery Clinton and the bama why they have 24- 7 ARMED protection

  • Jack April 8, 2016, 7:22 am

    Hemenway is quoted as saying, “If they’re running at you, you have half a second or something.” I invite him to run a test to verify that calling the police and having them arrive would be faster than pulling a trigger. I’d also like him to prove that good neighbors and locks (or even most dogs) will guarantee that no intruder will break into one’s home! Hemenway also implies that because your heart “starts beating like crazy” during a confrontation a gun is useless. Again, I invite this wannabe sage to run a test to determine whether being beaten to death or raped would be less stressful, (and result in a slower heart rate) than pulling a trigger.

    Perhaps this professor of health policy from the Peoples Republic of Cambridge should stick to studying the causes of Pathological Entitlement and Gross Stupidity epidemics that are growing exponentially in this country. A trip to his proctologist for removal of his head from his anus might also prove helpful!

    I went to Harvard in the 80’s for my MBA and, while I did meet some brilliant professors, many lacked basic common sense and/or an aversion to dealing with the truth; Hemenway just proves that hasn’t changed.

    • Kimberpross April 8, 2016, 11:49 am

      I agree with Hemenway we should own a dog. A small dog that will start barking when the intruder begins to enter. That will give you several extra seconds to calm down and get the 1911 on target.

      • Randy Lowe May 15, 2017, 5:26 am

        That was then, times have greatly changed seniors are tired of living in fear that cops won’t get their soon enough to protect them.

  • Mr Robert Anton Novak April 8, 2016, 6:34 am

    David Hemenway, a professor of health policy at Harvard University, said “the evidence is pretty strong that [owning a gun] isn’t going to help you” because shooting an intruder or assailant is difficult. “Your heart starts beating like crazy,” he said. “If they’re running at you, you have half a second or something.”
    Owning a gun isn’t going to help you? What, you still want granny to piss herself in order to stop some perv from raping her? Of course a gun is going to help you. this is about the dumbest statement any liberal shit head has ever spewed out his pie hole.

  • rt66paul April 4, 2016, 10:21 am

    David HemenwayIs just another person that does not believe firearms are for all non felon Americans. While an AR15 or even an SKS or AK might be too much for a 90 lb grandma(I said “might”), learning to use a mid caliber handgun can be done by most anyone.

    Anyone who says, “sorry, you can’t(or shouldn’t) have a firearm for whatever reason is just trying to deniy you civil rights. Unless he wants to adopt you and accompany you in your daily life, he should keep his mouth shut.

    Maybe there are people that should limit carry to stunguns and the like. That isn’t because they are frail, it would be that they are down the road towards dementia. That would be for a doctor to diagnose, not some would be trainer of firearms.

  • SuperG April 1, 2016, 3:33 pm

    Good going granny and grandfather! Now also get a security camera system so you know when someone is on your property! Don’t let them surprise you.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend