Dementia & Firearms – Together in Safety

Dementia & Firearms

Firearms and other weapons can be found in households across the country.
In most situations, their presence creates no problems for responsible gun owners and others in the household. However, firearms can pose a significant risk if someone in the home has Alzheimer’s or another dementia (Source)

Giving up a firearms licence may be hard for some people, especially those who live in rural areas and farms, and those licensed for occupational, recreational or sporting gun use. However, the effects of dementia can make continuing licensing and gun ownership dangerous for the person with dementia and others around them.

The progression of dementia means that the person living with dementia has an illness that affects their brain in ways that can result in:
– Poor decision making
– Distorted perception
– Forgetfulness
– Psychosis: delusions; hallucinations
– Personality changes
– Disinhibited behaviour

Although other people may be aware of these changes, it is possible that the person living with dementia has limited insight into these problems. A person living with dementia risks injuring themselves or others. (Source)

Discussing the risks soon after diagnosis can provide an opportunity for the person living with dementia to identify their wishes for safety planning and plans for their belongings (firearms, firearms licence and other recreational weapons). Inform the person living with dementia of the need to discuss this with them, and ask them to invite others to join in the conversation as they would like (friends, family, hunting colleagues, professional care partners, etc.). Select a place and time with the person living with dementia and focus on the facts and options available.

If signs of risk are present and a firearm is in the home, it might be best to have firearms stored at an alternate location. For help with alternative storage options or to report a safety concern, contact the Chief Firearms Officer in your province through the public safety line at 1-800-731-4000.