Crime

Gun Purchases Drop in Texas, but More Really Old People May Be Packing

Texas, the most gung-ho gun state in the country, may be getting just a little bit less infatuated with firearms. This year, the percentage of gun purchase requests submitted in Texas is significantly lower than last year. The Houston Chronicle reports that 1.1 million gun purchase requests were submitted last year, compared with 910,000 this year.

It's not clear why there has been such a marked decrease. Gun advocates offer several reasons, including fear of Congressional legislation limiting gun ownership. But one possibility could be that gun owners are simply aging out.

According to the Pew Center, a higher percentage older people buy guns than any other group. Forty percent of those over age 65 have firearms in their homes, compared with 26 percent of those ages 18 to 29 and 32 percent of adults ages 30 to 49. Pew data shows that most of these older gun-owners are also non-Hispanic whites and men.

While gun sales overall are dropping, the number of people over age 90 who completed concealed handgun license courses last year is more than six times higher than it was in 2010.

Just 19 people in the over-90 crowd were issued CHLs in 2010. Twenty-seven received licenses in 2011, and 31 in 2012. Last year 122 people over age 90 received CHL licenses.

Alice Tripp, legislative director with the Texas State Rifle Association, says that most of these people have likely had their licenses for many years, and are renewing. "I don't think these people suddenly woke up and said 'I think I'll get a license,'" she says. "Or it could be that an old folks home just went to get the license as a group.

"Many of these were likely people that got their licenses in their '70s," Tripp says. "These are people who have had their licenses for years." The concealed handgun license law passed in 1995, and many old-timers are simply undergoing the five-year renewal process, she said.

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Emily Mathis