An Old Man, A Savage, and Self Defense


Zeke Menuar
March 24, 2004, 03:59 PM
Hello All

This is a thorny topic for me. Here goes.

About 2 1/2 years ago I inhertied my Grandfathers M99-R. It's a pretty nice rifle in spite of being dragged over every stump in the Tillamook Burn. When I got the gun, it was in bad shape. My idiot alcoholic Uncle had possesion of it. Not a good thing. It had been stored muzzle up in a wooden gun cabinet for 30 years. Surface rust had set in. The action was difficult to work. I spent a few weeks polishing off surface rust with JB's bore paste, Slicking up the action, fixing the trigger. There was at least 50 years of copper racing stripes in the bore. I did a lot of this work at my Grandfathers house so he could feel like he was involved. Got the gun up and running. Shoots pretty good too.

My Grandfather is 86 years old. He lives by himself, my Grandmother passed away two years ago. Grandpa is in pretty good heatlh. He walks the dog and stays pretty active hanging out with his friends. He lives in a huge 55 and older subdivision.

About six months or so ago he asked me to give the gun back. I was leery but I gave it back to him. I figured he wanted to have it around as a memento of the good old days. Then he wanted ammo. When asked why he said he wanted the ammo so he could use the Savage( our family name for the rifle). I said that I didn't have anymore factory ammo and that reloads shouldn't be used for self-defense.

About a year ago I watched him try to work the rifle. Not only had he forgotten how the gun worked. He didn't have the hand strength and coordination to work the action. I doubt he has the manual dexterity to even load the Savage.

All my training tells me that an 86 year old man has no business using a hi-powered hunting rifle for self-defense. He is not strong enough nor quick enough to make any use of that gun in a SHTF situation. If he even got off a shot most likely the bullet would overpenatrate into the next house. Grandpa has no formal self-defense training of anykind. My guess is that the BG would wind up taking the gun away from him and ...well.. you know the rest. I should add that the gun is stored in the typical old guy fashion, stashed in the back of the bedroom closet.

Security in the Estates is very good, He has a dog that barks alot, an alarm system, and the best security system I know of. Nosy old people that stay home all of the time and watch each other. Any strange cars on his street and all the old folks are on the phone to each other making sure everything is OK.

In the last two weeks two separate events make me think it's time to remove the Savage from his house.
The first was when I went to show him my latest Mosin. We talked a bit and I asked him how the Savage was doing? He replied,
"what Savage".
"You know Grandpa your old hunting rifle".
"I don't have a rifle here."
I proceeded to show it to him.
"Oh that rifle. When did I get that. Did you bring it over?"
I then explained how he got the Savage back.

A similar incident happened on Sunday when I took over a silicone cloth and my cleaning gear to give the Savage its six month check-up.

It needs to be said that his short term memory is really bad. He doesn't remember an event 5 minutes after it happened. I am really afraid that someone could swipe that gun and he might not know about it for weeks. Or worse a BG could take it from him and well........we won't go there.

What should I do?


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Detachment Charlie
March 24, 2004, 04:05 PM
Sounds like my 87 yr. old mother and her Oldsmobile...including memory loss.
One day I just drove the car over to my place and parked it. Once she's mentioned that she used to have an Oldsmobile she enjoyed. I love her dearly, but Mom's "clutch is slippin'" more every day.
Now, it's my job to keep her safe. It's a great job. Hope I have it for a long time.

March 24, 2004, 04:10 PM
"What should I do?"

In all honesty I think you should quietly take it back the next opportunity you can, perhaps at the next conversation you have with him that repeats the last two which you relate.

If he appears to be incapable of using it properly then the chance that he would lose it in a struggle are pretty good. Then it may be lost forever.

But whatever you do try to preserve his dignity. That is probably the most important thing he has left.

March 24, 2004, 04:15 PM
Tough call. I can identify. Memory starts slipping surprisingly early, but at least as far as my personal experience goes, the individual knows that he's forgetting something. That may not be the case with your Granddad. In any case, I think the best approach is to gently but firmly insist on discussing your concerns with him. He's not turned into an idiot--he's just getting more forgetful. Hope your relationship with him is good enough to accomplish this; it sounds like it is. He's fortunate to have a Grandson who cares that much.

Good luck.

TFL Survivor

Vern Humphrey
March 24, 2004, 04:15 PM
I have to agree -- there is no more ardent defender of the right to self-defense than I, but I'd say, take the gun. Failing that, next time you clean it, disable it.

You wouldn't want him to hurt himself or some other person with it. Think of it like keeping a child safe.

March 24, 2004, 04:23 PM
Borrow it to go hunting.

Forget to bring it back. He'll forget that you have it.

March 24, 2004, 04:25 PM
I agree with others on this - out of love and respect for him, take the gun back. If possible, do it without his knowing - he won't remember having it anyway, and that way you don't have to upset him by talking about it. Remember how, when you were a child, your parents would gently but firmly do things that were for your safety, even though you may not have liked them at the time? Well, you're now (morally if not legally) in loco parentis for your grandfather. Love and cherish him - and keep him safe!

Greg L
March 24, 2004, 05:06 PM
Borrow it to go hunting.
Forget to bring it back. He'll forget that you have it.

That was my thought too except that I would use a trip to the range as an excuse (given the time of year ;) ).

Keeping his dignity though is a prime concern.

Good luck.

lee n. field
March 24, 2004, 05:24 PM
"what Savage".
"You know Grandpa your old hunting rifle".
"I don't have a rifle here."
I proceeded to show it to him.
"Oh that rifle. When did I get that. Did you bring it over?"
I then explained how he got the Savage back.

That's not short term memory loss. Sounds like he needs to get checked for Altzheimer's. That's about the age, or a little older, when my Grandpa started to really go downhill w/ Altzheimer's.

March 24, 2004, 05:38 PM
I think the idea of "borrowing" the gun is a good one. If he DOES remember, at least he knows you have it, and does not go into the closet to suddenly discover it gone. If he does not, then you have the gun anyway.

If he remembers enough to ask for it back later, give it to him with a couple of dud rounds. You were reloading anyway, right?

March 24, 2004, 08:18 PM
Based on what you've said, I would take it back post haste. It's no different than letting somebody tool around in a car when their driving skills are obviously gone, or letting a small child play with a razor blade. If you love him, you do what you need to do in order to protect him.

It sounds as though he's in a secure environment and doesn't go into harms way, and most likely wouldn't be capable of safely wielding the weapon in any case.

I've gone through a similar scenario with my mother over the last few years, and while it's really tough to make the call, it's something that needs to be done.

Larry Ashcraft
March 24, 2004, 08:41 PM
Borrow it to go hunting.
Exactly my thoughts. Preserves his dignity and the rifle is back in your possession.

BTW, neat rifle. I've got one that I keep around just because my Grandmother hunted with one (mine is an 1899 .303, made before 1917).

March 24, 2004, 08:52 PM
I agree with the majority here. Take the rifle back, use whatever excuse you feel would work. My grandfather was no stranger to firearms, he was a sergeant of infantry with the 5th Marines at Belleau Wood and points east on the western front of WWI. He developed Alzheimers, and my grandmother had to hide all the guns poste haste after a near tragedy. Your grandfather sounds like he's in a secure place, and a good ol' rifle sounds like it could be put to a better use than sitting in a closet.

March 25, 2004, 01:35 AM
It would be one thing if he were way out by himself. But you say he is living in a secured area (no guarantee), he's got a dog, and an alarm system. forget for a moment a BG breaking in. What if his alarm system sends an alert (or he does), and he shoots whoever comes to check on him? Can you live with that? After that, they might not charge him, but he'll certainly be "put away for his own safety".

Borrow it. If he insists on getting it back, disable it.

Gary Brommeland
March 25, 2004, 01:42 AM
I would have to agree with the idea of borrowng it and hanging on to it. Another aspect is one of social responsibility. What if grandpa launches a round into his subdivision and kills someone?

March 25, 2004, 01:54 AM
One more vote for you borrowing it back.

March 25, 2004, 02:17 AM
Maybe borrow it back, and somehow disable it; take out the firing pin, etc.. Just an idea. It's one way of keeping Grandpa safe, and preserving his dignity. Good luck. :cool:

March 25, 2004, 05:37 AM
You knew the answer to your question before you posted it. You just want others to tell you to do what you know you have to.

You know you need to take it. If you can get it without him knowing than do it. If by chance he asks about it just say "oh yeah, i forgot, i'll bring it by next week."

Very little good can come from him having that rifle. Take it.

March 25, 2004, 06:21 AM
Zeke, BTDT.:( It is sad when it comes to this, but you need to take the rifle back, however you accomplish it. After my grandpa developed Alzhiemer's, he starting talking about not wanting to be around, etc.
My grandma called my Dad & Uncle to come get the guns. It is time for you to do the same. Good luck, and FWIW, I've said a prayer for your Grandpa.

March 25, 2004, 06:30 AM
I had a similar situation with my Dad. As Alzheimer's and depression started setting in I got concerned about the 9mm he had always kept by his bed. He was delusional at times and I worried that he may hurt himself or Mom.
I "borrowed" the gun to give it a good cleaning and forgot to take it back. after a couple of months he realized it was missing and wanted it back. I handloaded a magazine full of dummy rounds (no powder, inerted primers) and took it back to him. He was happy knowing it was back at his bedside where it belonged and I felt safer knowing it wasn't functional.

March 25, 2004, 07:03 AM
Don't try and discuss it with him, he will end up being mad. Go over and clean the gun then while cleaning it tell him you need to take it by your place as you forgot solvent or oil, anything really. After it is out of the house if asks say you forgot it.

This is not a fun thing to do, but as others have said he needs you now. Take your time treat him with respect and love.

March 25, 2004, 10:35 AM
I am the 4th generation to own our family rifle. I am so happy that people took good care of it so that it is now in my hands. Every year I take it deer hunting; I haven't gotten anything yet but will someday. My dad got 3 deer with it before he gave it to me. It is a Marlin 1894 30-30 with a super long octagon barrel it was made in 1896.

If I were you I would take it just for the mere fact that someday the next generation will be able to shoot Grandpa's gun, or Great Grandpa's gun. It would be a shame for someone to take advantage of him and trick him into selling them that rifle. Guns that are heirlooms are very precious and need to be kept in a safe place.

March 25, 2004, 10:57 AM
This is another gut wrenching example of the burden of being a caring child of aging parents. Like cars, things we take for granted in life now become not only dangerous to the elderly but also to others around them.

If you have brothers and/or sisters, you may, depending on your relationship with them, need to explain what you are up to so that they don't simply think you are trying to take the rifle for yourself. They should understand and work with you on this. So, ditto to most of the other posters, you need to either take the rifle back or render it inoperative at your earliest opportunity.


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