DALLAS — The recent uptick in senior citizens being arrested with firearms at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport could be linked to an increase in the number of older Texans successfully getting a concealed handgun license.
"I've noticed a trend lately [over] the last three or four months that there has been a large increase in seniors coming in saying, 'I need to learn to take care of myself,'" said David Prince, owner of Eagle Gun Range in Lewisville.
In July and August, DFW Airport police arrested 11 people for mistakenly leaving firearms in carry-on luggage, and almost half were seniors in their 60s and 70s.
All of them told investigators that they forgot a firearm was in a bag before placing it on the conveyor belt for Transportation Security Administration screeners.
But the increase in senior citizens caught with weapons is something that hasn't made many headlines.
"You know how hectic the airport is," Prince, 65, said. "I think people are just forgetting. Let's face it, people of my age get a little more forgetful every day."
Only Atlanta's airport police found more total guns than last year than DFW, News 8 originally reported in February. DFW sent 84 cases to prosecutors in Tarrant County.
Forgetting firearms at places like the airport might get worse before it gets better for this older age group.
Last year, the state issued concealed handgun permits to 67,000 seniors, ranging in age from 60 to 100. That's a big increase from the year before.
But a smaller subset of that number is more striking. A lot more people aged 90 and up now legally carry pistols in Texas.
In 2010, 19 people in their 90s or older successfully completed the CHL course. Last year, that statistic increased more than tenfold to 122.
"We had some ladies in here this morning in their 80s and 90s shooting this morning," Prince told News 8.
Charges were eventually dropped for the five seniors who were arrested at DFW, but Prince said he believes with more older citizens now carrying firearms, that trend is likely to continue.