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The Old Man and His Gun


The question I am about to share with you came from a 73-year-old man who described himself as “old.” So please, don’t send me any letters complaining that I should use the term “middle aged.” I mean, the guy will likely not live to be 146 years old. So, let’s talk about the old man and his gun.

To paraphrase the question, which is good enough to appear in a future edition of Concealed Carry Magazine and a future video for Into the Fray, our hero wants to know what he should do with his gun now that he is “old” and can’t run away or fight effectively.

Well, let’s put it this way: a guy that old will certainly remember that scene from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where Paul Newman asks, before the knife fight begins, to discuss the rules. The antagonist says, “Rules? In a knife fight? No rules!” In response to that statement, Newman delivers a savage kick to the groin and says, “Well if there ain’t gonna be no rules, let’s get the fight started. Someone count, ‘1, 2, 3, go.’” After Robert Redford counts “1, 2, 3, go” there really isn’t much of a fight left. It’s a great scene. You can watch it here.

Well, we all know that responsibly armed Americans are not outlaws. So we have some rules. BUT, the good news is that the rules change as you get older. Even though I hate the term “fair fight,” lawmakers understand that older folks cannot engage in the same type of activities as the young, fit, human predators who prey on weaker, slower members of society. Police officers call these physical differences “officer/subject factors” and when such factors are present, officers can—when involved in a potentially violent encounter—legally use more force sooner.

Luckily for the rest of us, those same rules apply. If you, as a legally armed citizen, find yourself in a situation where you are clearly overmatched physically, cannot escape safely, and have a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm, then it is time to USE YOUR GUN.

Don’t worry about drawing “too soon.” If all those other elements are met you are allowed to, at the very least, brandish your weapon to put an end to the confrontation before it escalates. This is true as long as you can articulate all those elements to the police for the report. You will be making a police report because as soon as it is safe to do so you must call the police. You don’t want some thug calling 911 and saying, “Some old guy just threatened to shoot me.”

Making statements to the police like “I believed he was about to get violent. I’m three times his age. I’ve had both knees and my left hip replaced (if that is true). I could not have escaped from him” can really help your case for armed self-defense or its threat.

Remember, too, that these factors need not simply be elements of your physical abilities. Environmental factors like uneven ground, slippery conditions, or anything else that limits your ability to defend yourself raises the likelihood that you might need to employ greater force to escape the situation unharmed.

The truth of the matter is that age or infirmity typically provides you more latitude in the use of force, but remember all the other elements of danger still need to be met. It’s just that if you are “an older American,” those elements are more quickly met than if, say, a 25-year-old criminal attacks a 25-year-old victim.

You can use your gun as a form of legal self-defense when you have no other options. If the fact that you are 75 years old, have a bad back, and are standing on wet concrete steps all combine to limit your self-defense options, well then, use only the force necessary to stop the threat and tell the police about all the factors that influenced your decision.

Self-defense is a thinking person’s game. You need to be able to discuss the decisions you made and why you made them.


Next, think PAST the incident…Do you know what will likely happen when the police arrive? Here are six things you probably DIDN’T expect…



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