Older Americans Arm Themselves Against Crime; Is Their Fear Rational?


Despite statistics to the contrary, concern about crime apparently is prompting increasing numbers of older Americans to arm themselves, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Reversing longstanding patterns in the US, residents ages 65 and up are now the mostly likely of all citizens to own a gun, says Tom Smith, director of the General Social Survey, which is part of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety reports that more than 31,000 residents between the ages of 50 and 69 – including 6,200 women – have concealed-weapons permits.

Why? “Just read the papers,” one man told the Monitor. “Older people are getting tired of being picked on by savages.”

But the fear of violence that drives seniors to arm themselves may be exaggerated. According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, only 3.4 percent of Americans 65 or older fell victim to violent crime in 2002, down from 9.1 percent in 1973.

But today’s senior citizens came of age during the crime surge of the 1960s, and the psychological effect has stayed with them.

Link: http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0106/p02s01-ussc.htm

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