Woody Moore and Phil McCormick are retired federal employees living in Virginia. Both served in the Navy for brief periods in the 1960s, but apart from limited military training, these senior citizens had no experience with handguns until the two friends decided to take the NRA Basic Pistol class and apply for concealed-carry permits.
McCormick, 73, explained, "The older you get, the less safe you feel. It's not the same as when you're younger. I don't know if I will carry a gun all the time, but certainly at night or when I go to an ATM." Moore, 69, agreed, adding, "I just worry about my family's safety and I know the police are overwhelmed by all that is happening in our world. I just think I need to be sure my loved ones are safe." Both men wanted to own a handgun for many years, but only chose to fulfill that goal within the past decade. Moore's interest stemmed from his lifelong love for Western films and nostalgia, though he was quick to point out that while he'd love a Ruger Single-Six, his Smith & Wesson revolver in .357 Mag. is probably better suited for home defense.
McCormick set an objective for himself after retiring in 1997: "I had two goals in my life since retirement," he said. "One was to get a concealed-carry permit. The other was to take an NRA course so I could learn how to safely operate and shoot a handgun." More than 1,700 seniors have taken an NRA Basic course in the last 18 months, proving Moore and McCormick are not alone. The number of concealed-carry permittees over 65 years old is increasing all over the country. In Texas, more than 22,000 seniors had a permit in 2009, the last year for which data is available. That is nearly double the number of heat-packing seniors in 2006. At press time, those eligible for Social Security comprise 20 percent of all concealed-carry permit holders in Florida. Other states show the same trend.
Men aren't the only senior citizens prepared to defend themselves. Women like 67-year-old Texan Cathy DeStefano are among the most at-risk members of society owing to criminals' predatory nature. "Being a woman, you feel more vulnerable," she said. "I'm much more aware of where I go and when I go. My CCW permit certainly gives me a sense of security I wouldn't otherwise have. "It's no secret criminals find it easier to prey on those they perceive as weak or helpless, a fact that puts senior citizens at greater risk. But, the numbers indicate there are some surprises in store for bad guys. As DeStefano said, "A lot of people don't think a little old lady is armed!"
Here are McCormick and Moore in their own words: