Should I loan my father a firearm?
April 26, 2020 2:27 PM   Subscribe

As a result of Quarantine and the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding it, my father has asked me to loan him a firearm. He says that everything in the past few months has left him feeling unprepared and vulnerable. I'm not sure how to feel about that and would appreciate any insight or suggestions you might have, especially if you've been in a similar situation.

My father is a calm but slightly anxious guy in his early 70's with no history of mental illness. However, within the past year he has begun to show signs of memory loss. His father (my grandfather) suffered from Alzheimer's, but my father has not yet been tested for that (he was scheduled to be tested but then Quarantine happened.) He lives with my mother (also early 70's) in the suburbs of a large American city. He is not a gun owner himself, though he does have a state-issued gun owner identification card and has worked with guns before, though not as extensively as I have. I know my mother would not at all approve of a gun in the house.

When he first brought this up, I was supportive of his request. I want to help him out but I'm growing nervous about the gravity of the situation. Aside from the legality of the situation (can you loan a firearm to a family member?), my biggest concern is the possibility of his mental decline over the next few years and there being a gun nearby. Is it insane to have a gun in the house of someone who might possibly be on the verge of suffering from dementia, even if it would help them feel slightly more secure in these very uncertain times?

I live in a neighboring state and all of my guns are properly registered with the local authorities, aside from historic pieces that fall under Curio & Relic (FFL 03) designation. It would be one of these C&R guns that I would most likely end up loaning him. It would also be a long arm and definitely not a handgun, if that matters at all.

I knows guns are a touchy subject on MeFi (and rightly so) but I would very much appreciate your advice and candor with this very strange situation in which I've found myself.

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (57 answers total)
If your father's mental facilities are declining, he should not be given the power to very swiftly end a human life, especially given that you specifically cite anxiety, and especially given that you mention nothing that might actually indicate a threat to his person.
posted by WCityMike at 2:32 PM on April 26 [66 favorites]

I know you want to help him out, but given your concern about his memory loss and the potential for more serious issues combined with your mother not wanting a gun in the house I'd decline. I think you should respect both of your parent's ideas, but the person uncomfortable with having a gun in the house gets the final say. If your mother doesn't approve don't do it.
posted by downtohisturtles at 2:33 PM on April 26 [43 favorites]

Is it insane to have a gun in the house of someone who might possibly be on the verge of suffering from dementia, even if it would help them feel slightly more secure in these very uncertain times?

Yes. I am sorry.
posted by jessamyn at 2:34 PM on April 26 [89 favorites]

What’s the worst that could happen if you did not loan him a gun?

What’s the worst that could happen if you did?

Only you can answer this, but it seems to me the answer to the first is: he might be a bit sore at you and might have to figure out other ways to deal with his anxiety. All due respect, and I accept you may differ here, but the worst that could happen if you did is he could use it to kill or injure a person or persons, including your mom or himself.
posted by kapers at 2:34 PM on April 26 [24 favorites]

I also want to gently point out that his anxiety or other kind of mental difficulty, if it’s at the point where he’s being tested for Alzheimer’s, may be far worse than you might imagine if you don’t live with him and see him all the time. (I hate saying this but it’s something I’m dealing with in my family.)
posted by kapers at 2:37 PM on April 26 [33 favorites]

I know of someone suffering from dementia who worriedly told another relative that a strange man was upstairs in the house: what should she do?? It was her husband taking a shower. This is a real life example, unfortunately. And insecurity is an early sign of dementia, unfortunately, though these times could also certainly make anyone feel nervous.

But I think your concern is appropriate. Maybe help him upgrade the locks or install an alarm system. An alarm system that could be remotely activated and monitored may also be useful if he does end up living with dementia. But even if you don't go that far, there is a lot that can be done to improve security without acquiring a weapon.
posted by slidell at 2:46 PM on April 26 [27 favorites]

Why are you ignoring your mother's feelings in this? Not only is it also her house but she lives in an intimate relationship with your father and may be more aware of his level of functioning than you are (although detail can also be very strong in this ambiguous stage of decline)

Also, I want to second kapers that if you are even considering testing for Alzheimer's, there is an existing level of impairment that is likely to increase - not just linearly but sometimes in big jumps if there is any infection or disease active. (My mother-in-law gets very confused and can't even remember her date of birth when she has a UTI or high pain levels).
posted by metahawk at 2:46 PM on April 26 [66 favorites]

I say nope. It's irresponsible to hand over a firearm without extensive range and safety training on the specific model.

Also, mental health issues preclude it anyway.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:47 PM on April 26 [7 favorites]

Absolutely not. Your mother doesn’t want a gun in the house, and he’s experiencing cognitive decline. Either of those, let alone both, would make this a hard no.

Talk with him about other non-lethal ways you can help with his anxiety.
posted by Stacey at 2:47 PM on April 26 [18 favorites]

I would be concerned that your father may want to commit suicide.
posted by srboisvert at 2:59 PM on April 26 [32 favorites]

I know first-hand of a case where the husband attacked his wife (repeatedly, with increasing violence over time) as a consequence of age-related mental health issues (I forget the details). He thought she was an intruder.

My fear would be for your mother's safety more than your father's, my advice is - don't do it.
posted by GeeEmm at 3:09 PM on April 26 [14 favorites]

I know my mother would not at all approve of a gun in the house.

No further discussion. Why is this even a question?
posted by Brockles at 3:15 PM on April 26 [81 favorites]

As someone who lost his father to suicide I implore you not to do this.
posted by East14thTaco at 3:24 PM on April 26 [18 favorites]

Would it be possible to give him a non-functioning replica or prop gun or something? And just let him think it is a real gun? It might help to chill him out without allowing him to do any damage.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 3:25 PM on April 26

Oh my god do not give him a prop gun unless you want him to get shot by the police or an armed neighbor. If he gets confused and wanders out of the house with it, tragedy is likely to occur.
posted by jesourie at 3:27 PM on April 26 [35 favorites]

As people have pointed out - anxiety and paranoia are symptoms of his mental decline and will only get worse, not get better. If he has a gun he may absolutely end up shooting your mother or a visitor because he thinks they are intruders. And your mother gets an equal say and as you’re quite clear on her views...

That doesn’t mean you can’t help your father. Please find some resources on dementia and learn how you can sooth and redirect when he’s anxious. And perhaps check in with your mother. She probably needs support as well between the state of the world and your father’s anxiety.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:28 PM on April 26

I know my mother would not at all approve of a gun in the house.

Well, that's that. I think 'should there be a gun in the house?' is a consensus-required decision.

Maybe help him out by getting him a camera for the front door or something -- something that would give him a little more situational awareness?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:48 PM on April 26 [15 favorites]

Using a gun as a security blanket without the opportunity for training is a bad idea even for people who weren't experiencing cognitive decline to the extent of having a scheduled assessment appointment, saying this as not as a blanket guns-are-bad position but as someone who has been part of taking someone's guns away (temporarily, to be stored with a friend, at their lucid self's request) while they were undergoing drug-induced psychosis. Please listen to everyone in this thread about elderly parents committing suicide or harming their loved ones when they had access to firearms while in a declining mental state. The request itself isn't rational-- there has been no rash of violence or home invasions due to covid, you can't shoot a virus. Having to deal with Alzheimers or dementia when your parents are out of state, during a pandemic, is going to be difficult enough as it is. Putting a lethal weapon into that mix sounds terrifying. I know this is hard but you have to step up and be the adult right now-- you need to find another way to help your dad feel less anxious than something that will put him and your mother into actual life-threatening danger.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 4:09 PM on April 26 [10 favorites]

God, no. If this goes any of the hundred different ways it can go bad you’re going to spend the rest of your life living with the absolute certainty that you were responsible.
posted by mhoye at 4:10 PM on April 26 [3 favorites]

I know my mother would not at all approve of a gun in the house.

If you know this already, then giving your father a gun, irrespective of numerous health and safety issues mentioned, would be a pretty straightforward violation of her personal dignity and her right to decide how she gets to live in her home.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:42 PM on April 26 [19 favorites]

I had to care for a demented parent for a long time. It was my observation that people who are demented don't want to see it or accept it themselves (because it's horrifying), and certainly don't want anybody else to see it (because it's embarrassing, AND because they're afraid their ability to make decisions for themselves and live the way they want to will be taken away from them). So, people who are demented usually try to downplay and/or conceal it to the greatest possible extent. This means that dementia--again, this is just my observation--is *usually farther along than you think it is*.

Also, in the simplest possible terms, if there are two people in the house, one of whom wants a gun and one of whom doesn't, I'm not sure why you'd defer to the person who might be in cognitive decline.

Frankly it seems like an obviously terrible idea, which you are probably only conflicted about because of emotional attachments to the situation. I'd suggest asking somebody who's not emotionally attached, but you did already, and there's a pretty clear consensus.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:47 PM on April 26 [9 favorites]

dear God, no. No! Paranoia that results in confused hostility towards others, both strangers and loved ones, is 100% par for the course in dementia. You can't put a gun in his hands! (I'm guessing it would also be illegal to hand over possession to another person... I don't know... but it most certainly would be unethical and irresponsible in this situation.)

And tell your mom he asked you and you refused, so she understands that he's trying to acquire a firearm, because he may have friends that are less cautious than you.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:49 PM on April 26 [16 favorites]

I know my mother would not at all approve of a gun in the house.

No further discussion. Why is this even a question?
posted by Brockles at 5:15 PM on April 26 [13 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]
How did you know what I was going to say before I said it? Absolutely not. Why discount your mother's say in the matter? It's her house, too.
posted by notsnot at 4:53 PM on April 26 [6 favorites]

In your situation I would not give him a firearm. Definitely not. Mom said no, and it's her house too. It is dangerous for him to have one if he is experiencing cognitive decline.

What specifically is he worried about? Property crime? Being the victim of a violent crime or a confrontation with a stranger? I imagine due to their age they are not going out much lately, so I'm assuming he's worried about burglary or similar.

Maybe help him make his home more secure on a basic level, and set up some kind of automatic lighting around the house, make sure doors and windows are secure, etc. You could get him some surveillance cameras that he can watch on his phone to ease his anxiety. Don't get him a Ring device, otherwise he'll be getting crime alerts from the whole neighborhood which can make even a young and mentally healthy person feel paranoid and maybe Simplisafe or Wyze, something where it doesn't notify your phone every time a neighbor posts.

I would also check in with mom and ask her what she think will help in this situation.
posted by zdravo at 4:57 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]

I'm as or more gun-friendly as anyone here, and we've certainly loaned guns back and forth in my family (though state laws can complicate that, as you note). And yes, like everyone is saying, this is a bad idea, do not go through with it, and don't help him find a way to sneak around your mother's preferences on this. (That's a basic respect thing, never mind the risk of dementia.) Over and above any potential dementia/memory issues, he's responding to something in the culture -- there have been huge spikes in gun sales (and good luck finding common ammunition calibers right now), but those are because it is strange and scary, not because guns are in the slightest useful for personal coronavirus planning.

Coronavirus is super stressful for all the obvious reasons, but there's no aspect of it that you can shoot your way out of. The only crimes that appear to be up up either don't seem to apply to your parents (eg thefts from closed businesses; poaching of endangered wildlife) or are at risk of being worsened by easy gun access (eg domestic violence). No one is breaking into houses and stealing toilet paper just yet, nor is that likely.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:25 PM on April 26 [8 favorites]

Agree with the others that if your mom doesn't want a gun in the house, you shouldn't do this. Another suggestion I have is when you tell your dad that you can't lend him a gun, don't say that it's because your mom doesn't want one, she's probably got it tough enough right now living with an anxious person without also living with an anxious person that is also mad at her.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:26 PM on April 26 [4 favorites]

Absolutely, positively, unequivocally not. My father had dementia, so I know from experience that people with dementia can turn very paranoid and hostile, even violent, very quickly. My father was the quietest, gentlest man you ever knew...until he got Alzheimer’s. Add a gun to that? Again, absolutely not.
posted by holborne at 5:30 PM on April 26 [7 favorites]

I know my mother would not at all approve of a gun in the house.

Then, no. I mean, I don't know why there needs to be any other reason. Also, this may be the simplest and least-argumentative reason to give him. His potential for dementia is speculation, his motivations and whether they're entirely rational are a matter of opinion, but his wife's discomfort exists now and has immediate relevance and authority.
posted by desuetude at 5:52 PM on April 26 [5 favorites]

If you do this you will be opening yourself to life-changing legal consequences if anything goes wrong.

posted by aramaic at 6:48 PM on April 26 [3 favorites]

I join with everyone else on this. It sounds to me like a statistic waiting to happen. Offer to have their doors and windows reinforced, instead, or consider a home security system with (depending on your concerns over hacking and privacy) remote viewing, so you can keep an eye on things.
posted by Beholder at 6:55 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]

Can you simply tell him that you checked the rules and it would not be legal for you to lend him a gun? And yes, offer a home security system if they don't already have one.
posted by mareli at 7:00 PM on April 26 [3 favorites]

even aside from the issues of his worsening dementia and of your mother's desire for the home to be gun-free, in general, you should never give a firearm to a person who is actively frightened of something they can't even pinpoint. the things that are currently threatening people's lives in suburban america can't be shot at. you can't shoot a virus or a lack of healthcare infrastructure. you can't shoot poverty or economic uncertainty or an inability to pay your bills. all you'll be enabling him to do is accidentally kill someone or be killed himself.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:04 PM on April 26 [22 favorites]

Is he Asian? I ask because the request for a gun becomes much more reasonable in the context of the recent rise in anti - Asian hate crimes. There are a lot of Asian people buying guns for the first time right now.

Regardless, the mental issues do seem like a relative, if not absolute, contraindication. But if he's Asian, take his concerns seriously and look for other ways to keep him safe.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 7:08 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]

Of all demographic groups in the US, men over 65 are the most likely to die of suicide, and the most common method is by firearm. Suicide is the 7th leading cause of death among men. So even if you think, "oh he'd never hurt himself" I would just keep this idea in the back of my mind.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:10 PM on April 26 [8 favorites]

I'm likely more pro gun than many on metafilter (and even that is declining rapidly these days from a begining place that was still far to the left of most pro-gun orgs, so, go figure) and this answer is easy:

No. Do not do this for a myraid of ethical, health, and legal reasons.

Short version: If you have to ask regarding 'should i let this person borrow a firearm?' then the answer is no.

Long version: All the things, ok nearly all of them, you said are not good in and of themselves and are even worse in the specific, gun related, instance here.

Outstanding question: if he has the proper training/cards/etc for your localities why can't he work out a purchase on his own or are the shops closed?
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:43 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]

Feeling more secure is not the same as being more secure.

If you have any doubts about your father's mental state, either now or in the near future, you should not be loaning him a gun. That's regardless of any legal restrictions.

But apart from that, I'm shocked that you're considering just ignoring your mother's wishes here. She has just as much right to feel secure as your father does. What's more, her discomfort is reasonable. She's more likely to be injured or killed by that gun than protected by it. It's her safety, she gets a veto.

If you're a responsible gun owner, then you know that guns are legitimately dangerous. Taking steps to mitigate the danger is what makes you responsible. Forgetting that they're dangerous leads to irresponsible choices.

Giving a gun to your father in this situation would be irresponsible. Find out if there is something else you can to do help him feel less anxious, like the home security ideas some other commenters have mentioned.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:48 PM on April 26 [7 favorites]

The gun rights movement in America has long prioritized the fears of men with questionable mental faculties over the safety of the women who are close to those men.

Your only claim to being a responsible gun owner is contingent on your NOT participating in that toxic, misogynistic aspect of American gun culture.

Stay on your side of the state line. Phone your mom and let her know this conversation with your dad took place.
posted by armeowda at 8:11 PM on April 26 [37 favorites]

I'd encourage you to look at other ways to help your dad feel more secure if you don't want to loan him a gun (and I agree with others that that doesn't seem wise). Would a call alert/fall alert system with a fob for him and your mom help? Would Alexa/amazon echo devices where they can call out for the device to call you help? When my mom was still in her own home she agreed to one of the fob systems (and the local police did call when it went off and no one could answer, would have come to the house if no one answered that), and now she's really grateful for her Echo Show (though she can't handle computers) because she can ask it for the weather, news, and her favorite radio station. I keep meaning to set it up so she can ask it to call us if need be.
posted by ldthomps at 8:31 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]

I know my mother would not at all approve of a gun in the house.

you said he lives with her. so, that's it. the end. that's a shocking thing to consider any further.

Your additional concerns about his mental faculties don't need to enter into the decision at all, which is obviously No because you respect your mother. or if you don't, you respect any person's known wish to keep armed men out of her home.

were you going to be complicit in lying to her or keeping this from her, if you had done it? because you must realize that if you get your dad a gun and she knows about it, you have committed yourself to buying your mother a new house to live in.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:10 PM on April 26 [6 favorites]

Nooo nope nope. No nooo. Shocking you're even asking.

Dementia is swift and merciless and can result in hallucinations, confusion, temper tantrums, violence, paranoia, personality changes. You absolutely must not help someone acquire a firearm when you have any concerns about their mental faculties. From your description (anxious older man with declining faculties that he may be aware of, under quarantine stress), I'd also consider him at growing risk for suicide.

Your mother - who quite frankly is the person most likely to be accidentally killed with that firearm if things go hinky- doesn't want a gun in the house. Don't you dare override her very legitimate right to consent to that life-threatening safety risk.

Just tell him it's illegal for you to loan him one, end of story.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 9:15 PM on April 26 [14 favorites]

And tell your mother he asked you for a gun. She needs to know how his mental state is progressing, plus he might end up secretly acquiring one from someone else. She deserves to know her life may be at risk if she gets up for a 2am pee and he wakes up confused, hears her footsteps and mistakes her for a toilet paper burglar.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 9:21 PM on April 26 [31 favorites]

He is not a gun owner himself, though he does have a state-issued gun owner identification card and has worked with guns before, though not as extensively as I have.

Why not? Why did he have the card but no gun? What issue was it? Was it that your mother didn't want a gun in the house? Was it some other safety concern? What's changed, except for his new anxiety?

No, because of your mother's wants and needs. No, because of your father's own needs.

Whatever the reason there was for not having a gun in that household, there seem to be more now.
posted by RainyJay at 9:33 PM on April 26 [5 favorites]

When my dad started showing signs of age-related cognitive impairment is when my brother took his guns AWAY. You should not be GIVING your father a gun at this time. And I say this as one of the most strongly pro-gun-rights people on MetaFilter.

If he is anxious about his security, help him do a bunch of simple security upgrades around the home: motion sensor lights, stronger window locks, etc. Bars on the doors and windows if the neighborhood warrants it. Unless someone is targeting you personally, your home just has to be noticeably more difficult to break into than the one next door.

A dog could also be helpful. Burglars hate dogs. Plus: dog!
posted by Jacqueline at 11:07 PM on April 26 [7 favorites]


I'd look as hard as possible for ways (that are not guns!) to help him have more of a sense of control in his life. Both the pandemic and cognitive decline are situations where your control disappears and you know it, and it's a terrible feeling.

What's his daily life like? Does he do activities or does he mostly watch TV? (And if TV, is it Fox or some other channel hell-bent on making its viewers feel under siege?) Would he be open to some kind of virtual or phone volunteering, so that he can feel he's taking action during these times? Are there any projects he might like to undertake? Is gardening an option? Even if he'd prefer to just consume media, maybe there's some show or book you could watch/read together and discuss.
posted by trig at 11:56 PM on April 26

You should be discussing this with your mum before ask mefi. Hers is the most important opinion.
posted by chiquitita at 5:03 AM on April 27

As a result of Quarantine and the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding it, my father has asked me to loan him a firearm. He says that everything in the past few months has left him feeling unprepared and vulnerable.

When he first brought this up, I was supportive of his request.

On top of everyone else's points about concerns about dementia and how your mom gets the veto power on this (all points I entirely agree with), there is evidence that crime is down right now:

Time Magazine: "The U.S. virus epicenter in New York saw major crimes — murder, rape, robbery, burglary, assault, grand larceny and car theft — decrease by 12% from February to March. In Los Angeles, 2020 key crimes statistics were consistent with last year’s figures until the week of March 15, when they dropped by 30%." "Across the board, property crime is down in most places—especially acts against private residences. And there’s a dip in most violent crime as well [. . . ] Here are crimes that seem to be growing as our days in lockdown stretch on.

Vehicle theft
Domestic and family violence
Burglary of commercial businesses left vacant
Hate crimes (especially against Asian Americans)
Financial scams
Price gouging
Assault on medical workers and law enforcement (usually through coughing, spitting, or sneezing)
Defying stay-at-home orders and restrictions on public gatherings"

IOW, if your father didn't need a gun for personal protection two months ago, he really doesn't need one now.

My hobby-horse suggestion is that you should really think about why you thought that was a reasonable request, given this evidence.

My practical suggestion is that you & your mom should maybe try to keep a closer eye on the media (very much including social media) he is consuming to see what might be triggering his anxiety and vulnerability and ALSO keep a close eye on bank accounts and other signs that he might be getting getting scammed or convinced to spend money on things that are wholly unnecessary.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:06 AM on April 27 [5 favorites]

A friend of a friend committed suicide by gun two weeks ago. He was suffering from the effects of a traumatic brain injury that had made him anxious and paranoid. The gun was a loan from a family member that his wife didn't know about. On top of grieving her husband, she is dealing with a feeling of anger and betrayal that his family would have given him the weapon he killed himself with, against her wishes.

Don't do this.
posted by lunasol at 10:36 AM on April 27 [6 favorites]

1. Do not give him a gun. I agree with Aramaic that doing so would have life-changing legal consequences for you if anything went wrong. I agree with all the others above who say something going wrong is entirely foreseeable right now. I suggest that it even if it would otherwise be legal, in your jurisdiction, for you to lend a gun to a family member, it is likely illegal to do so under the circumstances you state.

2. Tell your mother he has requested a gun. This is critical information for her own protection, as he may get a weapon elsewhere, and for his protection, as he may try to commit suicide by another means. Do not underestimate the possibility that he wishes to have the gun to kill himself. Or that he will impulsively use it to kill himself once he has it.

I am sorry this decline is happening to your father. I am also dealing with a person who has a brain injury/dementia who has asked for a gun. I am absolutely clear that in my jurisdiction it would be illegal for me assist him in getting a gun, much less give him one. If I did so, I would expect to be charged and jailed, even if no-one ended up injured or dead. It would be much like giving a gun to a child, with similar legal consequences.
posted by KayQuestions at 12:43 PM on April 27 [2 favorites]

Yeah in line with what others are saying above it may be helpful to know that asking for a gun can be a symptom, not necessarily what many would consider a reasonable response to scary external events for someone who is neurotypical.

When my partner's dad was showing signs of dementia, the first thing we did was removed all existing guns in the house because he was asking about them and this was thought to be a negative indicator of his mental health.
posted by jessamyn at 12:47 PM on April 27 [8 favorites]

"...asking for a gun can be a symptom..." [of dementia or traumatic brain injury]

Jessamyn is correct. Beware: some doctors are unaware of this symptom, and chalk it up to a reasonable desire for a gun, and an unreasonable desire for the caregiver to control the dementia/TBI patient. Tell the doctor of this symptom, and if the doctor dismisses your concerns, do what I did for my friend and get a better doctor.
posted by KayQuestions at 2:05 PM on April 27 [4 favorites]

Please, no. No no no. My mother, who has dementia, got very paranoid very quickly, and would often gesture at me with a sharp knife. She hit me with a meat tenderizer a few times. She is safely in a memory unit in an assisted living facility, but the potential for mayhem was huge while she was home. I am forever grateful that we have never been gun owners.

ALSO: please let your mother know that he asked for one. He might be able to order one or otherwise procure one elsewhere. A friend's family member hid the last gun in his collection from his wife after they had agreed to get them all out of the house. He killed her one morning at breakfast.

One trick might just be to keep putting him off. "Oh, sure, next time I see you." "Oh, sorry, I forgot!"
posted by clone boulevard at 2:09 PM on April 27 [3 favorites]

Apart from all the other things upthread (which I agree with), he is highly likely to hurt himself or someone else as he becomes confused about how to handle a gun, how to store it, whether it is loaded; he may fumble it and discharge it by mistake.

Imagine your elderly, increasingly confused dad, keeping a loaded long gun in the bedroom, picking it up to reach for something behind it, or grabbing it in mistake for something else...

.... just no. No no no.

Also I can tell you from personal experience with my father last year that dementia can go from early signs to dangerous lack of capability within months.

What I'm saying is quite apart from the paranoia and disturbed thinking, he may soon lose or even already have lost the capacity to handle a firearm safely.

Don't do it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:03 PM on April 27 [1 favorite]

Someone I love lost her father to suicide by handgun shortly after his dementia was diagnosed as Alzheimer's. Please don't give your dad an easy way to kill himself.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 4:31 AM on April 28 [2 favorites]

No gun! You could open up a discussion about the dangers of forgetfulness when handling firearms if you think he's aware that's an issue. You could talk about how training to use and fire weapons is important to safely handling them and now is not the time to go to a range to practice. Maybe you could divert to pepper spray and say something like: "I want you to be safe and have a weapon that hasn't got so many consequences that you are afraid to use it with no hesitation." I'm not going to say pepper spray has no dangers, but it's at least not the worst.

You could maybe also say you aren't even going to discuss it without your mother being on board with the idea because it'd be a betrayal.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:08 AM on April 28 [2 favorites]

>>I know my mother would not at all approve of a gun in the house.

>No further discussion. Why is this even a question?

I cross-referenced with The Handbook of Toxic Masculinity and the subtext is the question: "Dad's scared and declining, and to him power is a gun -- how do I tell him 'no, no gun for you'?"

The Handbook is unhelpful, so maybe "deal with your sh_t" head on and face down the future: not so likely to have local crime, very likely to harm himself and nobody wants to face what life will be like without the foundation of a parent. You can put the soft edges on it yourself.
posted by k3ninho at 4:40 PM on April 29

But if he's Asian, take his concerns seriously and look for other ways to keep him safe.

Just to add to this comment -- some areas have "armed response" security services available. Where I live this runs about $200-$300 per month and their residential service is in the form of periodic drive by checks, and the ability to call for immediate response if there is a threat. I don't know what is available where your parents live, but might be worth checking into.

To get your father to accept this as an option, perhaps an approach of "what if something happens when you aren't home" or "what if you are in the hospital and mom is facing danger alone" might work.
posted by yohko at 11:12 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]

- accidental injury (of himself or someone else)
- suicide
- homicide
- escalation of a situation (like confronting a petty thief with a gun which then turns the incident lethal)

These are all far more likely than the hero's imaginary scenario that your he will encounter a situation where a gun would be helpful and then use it appropriately in defense only. Far, far more likely to harm himself or an innocent person such as your mother.

I'm sorry this is happening to your family and your father. Sending you the best vibes for his health and welfare.
posted by amanda at 10:13 PM on May 2

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