Number of older Americans arming themselves on the rise

Published: Sep. 7, 2016 at 5:27 PM CDT
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Armed and aging; More and more seniors are packing heat and learning to shoot. The number of people 65 and older taking shooting lessons is skyrocketing. The National Rifle Association says between 2010 and 2015, there was a 400% increase in people ages 65 and older taking basic firearm training courses.

Shooting pool is good fun, but for most seniors, getting a gun isn't for sport. "I don't think most of the senior citizens can defend themselves very well against a younger thug," says Doug Jones.

"We don't see many 75 year old guys coming in to buy a new duck gun to go hunting with," says Nick Newman, owner of Cherokee Firearms.

Firearms training among seniors has quadrupled in the last five years nationwide, and at Cherokee Firearms, gun sales to seniors are up too. "Oh maybe 20, 25 percent, and it seems like we get a spike typically when there's something bad in the news that happens or you hear about home invasions or armed robberies, things like that," says Newman.

Newman says seniors often feel they need to be able to take care of themselves, more now than ever before. "The comment that we hear a lot is, this world is crazy today, and things aren't like they used to be," says Newman.

At Cherokee Firearms, they say over the last few years, more and more of their customers, including seniors, have been women. So they're selling more accessories like purses with built-in holsters.

"There's still a wide gender gap in our customers, but it's closing steadily," Newman says.

"I think all grandmas should have a gun!" says Katherine, who plans to get a gun soon.

Jones plans to shoot more pool than guns, but he feels more secure being armed. "I do have a pistol on my nightstand, two of them, in case I drop one or run out of ammo, I have another one," says Jones.

Newman recommends seniors take a conceal carry class to learn how to use their firearm even if they don't plan on getting a permit.


From the National Rifle Association:

NRA has seen a large rise in all demographics seeking firearm training. Specifically in students over 65, NRA training courses have had a 400% rise since 2010. This data is just for basic firearm training courses (pistol, rifle, shotgun) taught by Certified NRA Instructors.

· In our basic courses for the 65 and older category, we had 5,652 take training courses in 2010 and 22,739 in 2015

· The combined % increase for all demographics since 2010 is 265%, though 2013’s numbers were higher than 2015.

· The National Rifle Association trains nearly 1 million students of all ages across all courses every year with nearly half a million students participating in our basic courses.

The NRA says, " We see the increase in older adults enrolling in firearms training courses as an indicator that these citizens believe their personal protection, and the safety of their families and property, is ultimately their responsibility, and are taking the initiative to pursue proper firearms training in order to become empowered to defend themselves legally and responsibly. The NRA is encouraged by this responsible behavior, and will continue to provide the gold standard of firearms training, safety and education to citizens of all ages, as we have for decades."