Across the country, more senior citizens are getting gun permits and taking part in firearm classes.
According to the National Rifle Association, more than 22,000 people took basic firearm classes across the country last year. The number of students represents a 300 percent increase from the amount taking gun classes in 2011.
To keep up with demand, the Frontier Justice gun store in Lee’s Summit is now offering a seniors-only basic firearm class starting in May.
“We try to get people into what they feel comfortable using, having in their home, and what they can easily operate in an emergency situation,” explained Frontier Justice President Bren Brown.
Experts say more senior citizens are likely buying guns as a result of crimes targeting them. Seniors are often targeted for home invasions, muggings and robberies. Thieves may also target older people since they usually put up less of a fight than a younger person.
“[Senior customers] are thinking about home protection,” said Brown. “They're feeling vulnerable because of stories about break-ins into senior citizen homes and mass shootings like San Bernardino.”
Frontier Justice has seen the increase in senior citizens up close. Regular customers include 79-year-old Jack Kirse and his wife, Janet. The two often come to the shooting range to practice with their pistols.
“We do it as a hobby for the most part, but I also feel secure that when I'm by myself, I can take care of myself,” said Janet Kirse.
Janet Kirse got her gun permit around five years ago, while her husband got his in 2009. The two said hearing about crimes targeting seniors led to the decision to get a gun.
“I've seen [the crimes] on television and in magazines,” Jack Kirse said. “If it should happen to me, I want to be ready."
The new gun course for senior citizens starts May 10 at Frontier Justice. For more information, visit the Frontier Justice website.
Tom Dempsey can be reached at Tom.Dempsey@KSHB.com.