Monday, November 4, 2013

So it's time to take away the car but should grandpa keep his guns too?

Caring for elderly parents often means worrying about the right time for them to stop driving but because I live in the US of A and we have the right to bare arms - it's irresponsible NOT to consider if and when to remove guns from an elderly family member.  It is especially important if he or she is suffering from dementia, becoming paranoid or has violent potential.

Keeping a parent from driving seems minor compared to the possible firestorm that might result from telling grandpa that he can't be trusted with his hunting rifle any longer.   I realized this today after reading about an 88 year old man who shot a police officer in the head after the officer responded to a fire at the elderly man's home.  News reports indicate a history of threats to shoot neighbors and a short-lived restraining order filed by a girl friend.  This makes me wonder if he had dementia which caused his outbursts to become worse over time.

Last year  I read about another instance where an elderly man shot two of his children at his home.  One died and the other was seriously injured.  The man was later diagnosed with dementia and news reports indicated that police had been at the home before.   I wonder why his children did not remove guns from the home if he was showing signs of dementia and growing paranoid.  It seems like the first thing we should do but, like the car, the situation poses all kinds of emotional questions about their judgement, independence and rights.

We want to show our parents respect and empathy but something has to change.  It's MORE important to remove firearms than a vehicle, though either might be used to cause harm.  I would hope that police and families could work together to act when an elder demonstrates that he or she may no longer be trusted with guns.  Families need to watch for the first sign that something is wrong and then take action.  Unfortunately, given our right to own guns, I suspect there is no one to call for help unless the elderly person actually does something to actually harm somebody.  It's a shame there is not more that police can do to remove fire arms from someone with alzheimers or any other type of dementia.  I am all for forced removal of guns and ammunition as well as a federal blacklist of individual that are diagnosed with dementia, paranoia due to age related decline or anything other condition that could result in violent behavior.  Though I have great compassion for these folks, at some point in the progression of their disease there is no reasoning with some violent elders. Thus, there is no reason they should retain their right to own guns - their right to bare arms must be removed for the safely of those around them. The right to a safe environment by the many far out weights the right of one who's judgement and comprehension are gone.