Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Behavioral Sciences and the Law 25 (2007), pp. 405–423; doi 10.1002/bsl.766. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Used by permission.


This article explores the possible risks associated with gun ownership by older adults. We summarize existing regulations on who may own firearms, especially with respect to age. We then present data on older gun owners and violence committed by older adults in general, followed by a discussion of gun violence perpetrated by gun owners whose functional and cognitive abilities have declined, perhaps as a result of dementia. For comparison purposes, we review regulations on driving among older adults, drawing parallels to gun ownership. The paper concludes with recommendations for ensuring the safety of older gun owners and others, balanced against citizens’ right to bear arms, and with some directions for research.