Karl Virtue, 70, didn’t think about owning a gun until after he reached Social Security age, reports the Houston Chronicle. After a tussle last year with a man he caught stealing from a construction site, he is a card-carrying concealed handgun license holder. As a senior citizen, he represents one of the most likely age groups to take advantage of the 1995 Texas law allowing law-abiding residents to carry guns. “When I was younger I never had to worry, because nobody was going to go out of their way to give me a hard time,” said Virtue, a retired fundraising consultant. “But when you get old, you feel you’ve lost your mojo. You feel more vulnerable.”
Elderly and middle-aged residents are more likely to get concealed handgun permits than people in their 20s, 30s and early 40s, says the Texas Department of Public Safety. People 60 and older hold more than one-fourth of the permits in Texas. Tlthough those 55 and older represent 28 percent of the state’s population older than 21, they carry 42 percent of the permits. To get a permit, residents must pass criminal background checks and take a 10-hour course to learn about handgun safety and demonstrate proficiency shooting at a target. Some 72,345 people have concealed handgun licenses in Texas, but there is no way of knowing how many people actually own guns. The General Social Survey at the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center says that, with hunting on the decline among younger Americans, older adults are more likely to be current or former hunters who keep rifles and shotguns in their homes.