Are really old Social Security recipients to blame for crime wave?

(A version of this column appears in the March 10 edition of “Firearms News,” formerly “Shotgun News.”)

America is not in the midst of a big crime wave. Gun ownership is way up, and violent crime rates are down across the board (See “Gun homicides, violence, down sharply in past 20 years”, , and “FBI report confirms crime fell while gun purchases soared”, ) . . . proving empirically what gun-owners have long argued: An armed society is a polite society.


As we saw in this space back in January, America’s overall murder rate is about half Russia’s, less than half as high as those of Panama and Mexico, a minuscule 10 percent of the murder rate in Venezuela . . . despite all those countries having much harsher “gun control” laws. (And murder rates are ever lower in states like Vermont, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, where lots of people carry guns.)

Murder rates in those last three countries are boosted massively by the War on Drugs, as they are here. The seriousness of any politician claiming he or she wants to “reduce firearms violence” should first be measured by the extent to which they call for re-legalizing drugs, the same way Franklin Roosevelt and his Democratic Congress virtually eliminated drive-by Tommy-gunnings in America’s streets by re-legalizing alcohol (then and still our most harmful drug) in 1933.

This was a much more peaceful country when marijuana and coca leaves and laudanum and codeine could be freely purchased by adults in America’s pharmacies and grocery stores, from 1620 to at least 1916, the way we buy beer and wine and coffee, today. Return to that state of normalcy, and America’s inner city youth would quickly realize the drug trade is no more glamorous (and in most cases no more lucrative) than driving a beer truck.


In a way it was almost pathetic, watching lame-duck gun-grabber Barack Obama once again surround himself with children and the parents of dead children (or was it seats left empty for the ghosts of dead children? I lose track) and wipe away a tear as he simpered through yet another anti-gun diatribe Jan. 5.

The president moaned that 30,000 Americans die in gun violence every year.

Yes, in 2013, there were indeed 33,636 gun deaths in America -– most in precisely those states and cities with the most “gun control.” We’re not sure how many were caused by our over-militarized cops, murdering and crippling Americans after breaking down their doors late at night (with complete legal impunity -– thanks, Mr. Prosecutor!) based on a bunch of made-up lies on their “search warrant affidavits.” But as Mr. Obama mentioned in passing, that figure includes 21,175 suicides.

While that many people desperate enough or in enough under-medicated pain to commit suicide may indeed be a problem, is it a “gun control” problem?

“Gun control” has reached a high-water mark. Polls no longer show majority support for more gun control, other than keeping guns away from lunatics. Congress balks.

So what did Mr. Obama have left? He vowed he would make “anybody in the business of selling firearms” register as a licensed dealer, obliged to conduct background checks.

But FFLs have been required of all those “in the business” -– along with background checks -– for decades, even at “gun shows.”

What’s actually been happening is that the ATF has gone from saying they’d happily issue a federal firearms license to anyone who wanted one, to instead systematically reducing the number of people with FFLs by shutting down so-called “garage dealers” and “basement dealers.” They’ve increasingly been insisting FFL holders have a full-time, brick-and-mortar gun store with a thick concrete roof, an alarm system connected to police, etc.

So which is it? Has Mr. Obama instructed the BATF to restore all the licenses they’ve taken away? Has he set a goal for them to double or triple the number of folks holding FFLs? Since the $200 tax on machine guns was OK’d by the Supreme Court as a revenue measure, has he ordered the BATF to encourage the import and new manufacture of machine guns for sale to “civilians” in order to multiply tenfold the much-needed revenues from that tax -– collecting the tax on new machine guns at 24-hour drive-through windows?

I don’t think so.



Other than that, Mr. Obama vowed to include “information from the Social Security Administration in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm.”

Something no one could object to? Wait.

A.W.R. Hawkins reports at that a Jan. 4 White House preview of Mr. Obama’s new executive orders stated:

“The reporting that SSA . . . is expected to require will cover appropriate records of the approximately 75,000 people each year who have a documented mental health issue, receive disability benefits, and are unable to manage those benefits. . . .”

This means “information on beneficiaries who meet the criteria of mental impairment — demonstrated in part by an inability to manage their own benefits — will be added to the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) so that the beneficiaries cannot buy a gun.”

Are there elderly Americans so confused that their younger relatives should firmly insist it’s no longer safe for them to carry firearms? Sure -– most already in “managed care” facilities, I presume. But Social Security officials are not going to visit and interview 75,000 elderly Americans “each year” and make case-by-case judgments, in consultation with doctors, are they? They’re just going to assume any oldster who’s opted to have his or her checks delivered to a child or grandchild who helps them manage their financial affairs is too crazy to buy a gun.

Which crime wave are we aiming to stop, here? The wave of incidents in which Americans over the age of 80 hie themselves down to the local gun store and fill out all the federal forms in order to buy a brand-new “military-style” semi-automatic weapon, spending between $500 and $3,000, and then use it to shoot up a schoolyard or hold up a convenience store -– a crime wave that could have been prevented if only that licensed dealer had been told, “Nope, wait a minute, that old gal has her daughter receiving her Social Security checks; she may be confused”?

There is no such crime wave. Anyone who’s reached the age of 80 and who decided at some time to purchase a firearm and learn how to use it probably did so 50 years ago; they’ve already got their firearms.

And they often need them. Just do an Internet search for “elderly person shoots home invaders.” I especially like the ones in which our current crop of brilliant burglars lock the resident oldster “in the gun closet.”

Why should the White House get a “pass” for circumventing Congress to violate their Constitutional rights in a way that leaves all those old people defenseless — whether or not the modern Internet age has them frustrated enough that they decide to let a child or grandchild help them handle their financial affairs?

Please note we’re fast approaching the point (thanks to these very same freedom-hating hoplophobes, who don’t seem to hate guns so much when it’s their police fielding the heavy hardware) where taking a firearm to a gunsmith to have it repaired or upgraded –- adding glow-in-the-dark sights, perhaps -– and then returning to pick up one’s own handgun will be considered a “transfer,” subject to the same background-check restrictions as a new purchase.

Do we want that responsible elderly person to be told he or she can’t get their own gun back? Do we want them continuing to depend on a defective firearm in need of repair because they’re afraid if they take it in for repair they won’t be able to get it back?


But yes, we do still have some “mass shootings.” What to do?

Let’s look at who’s committing them.

Female mass shooters and young ladies shooting each other over drug turf are as rare as hens’ teeth. The perpetrators are males.

Older male mass murders with children? I believe the man who shot up the McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro 30 years ago (after trying in vain to seek psychiatric help) was 41 and married. But leaving aside Islamic terrorists, there aren’t many who are over 30 and married.

Our problem is almost entirely among single young men aged 16 to 26. And even among that group, you can pretty much rule out young men playing on the varsity football team, Boy Scouts working toward their Life or Eagle badges, and young men married with a job, starting a family.

For starters, fruitcakes who think their neighbors are zombies in a video game tend to attack only where guns are prohibited — including Columbine High School, that theater in Aurora, Colorado — even Army bases like Fort Hood, where disarming our soldiers was one of the first things on the Clintons’ agenda when they took office back in ’93 (right up there with incinerating the Branch Davidians.) So let’s start putting up signs that say “We’re Proud to Welcome Our Armed Patrons.”

But human cultures have struggled for millennia to deal with the excess aggression of testosterone-charged young males. I’m going way out on a limb here to suggest that locking up our youths in the mandatory government propaganda camps we call “public high schools,” forcing them to sit under buzzing, flickering fluorescent lights doing endless short-term memorization of a mind-dulling procession of half-truths (Abraham Lincoln — champion of freedom?) for years and years and years — doping them up on Luvox or Ritalin if they refuse to sit still — is not working out well.

Other than the small percentage who are really college material -– tomorrow’s doctors and scientists — these young men should be encouraged to cram what we now consider 10 years of stretched-out, make-work schooling into six, to start learning a useful trade at about age 13, and then encouraged to find a paying job, marry, and start a family not when they’re 27, but when they’re biologically ready -– at 17 or 18.

If two-thirds of our families took the money they’ve saved for the “college educations” of those with little talent or vocation for a white-collar profession, instead using it to pay for a wedding and a “starter house,” might that not be a better start at solving this problem than trying to keep self-defense weapons out of the hands of 80-year-old Social Security recipients, never known to hurt anyone who isn’t breaking down their bedroom door?


Vin Suprynowicz, author of “Send in the Waco Killers,” was for 20 years an award-winning editorial writer at the daily Las Vegas Review-Journal. His latest drug-war novels are “The Testament of James” and “The Miskatonic Manuscript,” available online. He blogs at .

7 Comments to “Are really old Social Security recipients to blame for crime wave?”

  1. Sean Says:


    I support responsible gun ownership, and I am a gun owner myself. So please don’t call me a gun grabbing fool when I point out the research that has been done showing that restricting gun access does lower the suicide rate.

    It’s not just a case of “Well, if they don’t have a gun, they’ll find another way to die.” The studies have shown that if the gun isn’t there, they are much less likely to attempt suicide by any means.

  2. Leslie Fish Says:

    First, to Sean: I’m sorry but that website’s data is flawed. According to the FBI and CDC, potential suicides who don’t have ready access to guns do tend to find other ways — especially methods that don’t *look* like suicide, so as to spare their families (especially if they have insurance). The most popular of these are traffic “accidents” and Suicide By Cop (and the latter is lamentably easy). Also note that Japan’s suicide rate is higher than the entire American homicide rate. They that want it *will* do it.

    Vin, I’d agree with you about getting young men training in practical trades, and at least part-time entry-level jobs, as early as 13 is a good idea — but I would not recommend that they marry and breed early. According to FBI figures, again, a lamentably large percentage of homicides are committed by young men upon their present-or-ex girlfriends — especially if the girls get pregnant. Young men who have money, such as from steady employment, can obtain amenable girlfriends without having to marry them — especially if we beat it into their heads at an early age to *always use ‘protection’*.

    I’ve also noticed, here in Arizona, that the more level-headed young males are eager to get into vocational community colleges and vocational high schools, where they learn skilled trades that promise reliable good incomes. Of course, those are among the first things that Republican governors and legislatures tend to cut from the state budget, the idiots. I also saw, back when I was a Welfare case-worker back in Chicago, that those ‘Welfare bums’ would line up at 4 AM and fight for a place on line to get reliable factory jobs — the kind that didn’t require even a high school diploma. So those horny young men are not unwilling to work for wages, or even to learn practical trade skills; they’re just unwilling to endure what Bourgeois Liberals consider “higher” — i.e. white-collar — education.

  3. MamaLiberty Says:

    Suicide is a personal decision and nobody else’s business. How they choose to end their lives is not simply a matter of convenient access to guns, since the person who dies from strangulation, poison or jumping off a bridge is just as dead as he would be with a bullet in his brain. His/her choice. And a very large number of deaths included in most “gun death” statistics are suicides. Not something any “law” can really address.

    So, what’s left? As Vin says, the great majority of homicides, whether committed with a gun or any one of thousands of other easily available tools, take place mostly in urban and metro areas, among young men (and innocent bystanders) shooting at each other. I’m told that 70% or more of those are among young black men committing other crimes, many of which should not BE “crimes,” of course. As Vin said, the “war on drugs” and gang warfare over that is the root of most of that violence.

    “Gun free zones” certainly assist the young aggressors to choose their targets so they are in little danger of being shot themselves, except for their fellow criminals and rival gang members, of course.

    The idea that the elderly person who can’t manage to pay their bills on line will become a domestic “terrorist” and shoot up the town is too crazy to even contemplate, of course.

    I’m 70 years old. Though I manage my own affairs very well, I’d love to invite all hoplophobes to consider the gun and other tools I carry every day. And if they think I shouldn’t have those tools… they can come up and get them… themselves. No proxies.

  4. Jerome Bigge Says:

    We could also reduce health care costs by repealing prescription laws. Which really only provide doctors with a legal government enforced monopoly over access to medical drugs.

    Eliminating prescription laws allows people to treat their chronic conditions at a much lower cost. The fee for an office visit (according to what my Medicare Advantage plan statements give is now $151. Generally the doctor will insist upon visits at least twice a year. That’s $302 right there. More than the cost of what I pay for my blood pressure, cholesterol, arthritis medications for a year’s supply.

    I go into details on this on my blog at “”.

  5. MamaLiberty Says:

    Jerome, most of those prescription drugs are exponentially more dangerous than street drugs. As a retired RN with serious education in pharmacology, I wouldn’t touch any of them with a ten foot pole.

    What’s needed is a complete separation of medicine and state (along with everything else, of course) and people would then be free to do whatever they thought right about their own health and medicine. They’d also be personally responsible for the consequences of what they decided! That’s something an awful lot of people don’t really want, no matter how much they talk about “freedom.” Too many want the freedom to act, but for someone else to pay for it and take responsibility for the outcome. That’s the desire of the entitlement mentality in every aspect of life. And it won’t work.

  6. Steve Says:

    While our own government neglects to track death by “our” police there is a news source doing just that. In 2015 US police killed 1140 people. The Guardian has a 2016 database now running. 183 so far this year. (I do not know if police killings are counted as “gun deaths”)

    As for legalizing drugs, in a 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine it was found deaths from painkiller overdose fall by 25%.

  7. Bob G Says:

    Re: ‘Prescription’ drugs – I remember during my travels going into a pharmacy in (I believe it was) Thailand and having my mind blown. Right there on the shelf were things like penicillin and tetracycline. Pick up a package and for a few bucks walk right out the door, no questions asked. When I queried the proprietor about a prescription, he looked at me as if I were from another planet.

    What a concept! Go to your doctor for recommendations, not permission, to get the drugs you need to keep yourself healthy if you need outside advice. I suppose it would still be advisable to ‘Ask Your Doctor’ about things such as harmful potential side effects and interactions with other drugs.