Departmental Papers (SPP)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



In the United States, more than 17 million people over the age of 65 own a firearm. They have the highest rate of suicide by a firearm, and recent data suggest that a disproportionate number apply to carry a concealed weapon. At least one new handgun has been designed and marketed with older people in mind. Memory, thinking, and judgment as well as physical and behavioral competence issues related to an elder's safe operation of a motor vehicle apply to firearms, too. Gun availability can pose a particular risk to those with dementia as well as to their caretakers. The elderly constitute a substantial and rapidly growing population/market segment for whom the public health implications of firearm production, promotion, access, ownership, and use merit consideration.


Postprint version.

Mertens, B., & Sorenson, S. B. (2012). As we age: Current considerations about the elderly and firearms. American Journal of Public Health, 102, 396-400. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300404.



Date Posted: 03 July 2013

This document has been peer reviewed.