Guns > Handguns

Does the AARP Still Want Your Guns?

AARP has provided services and benefits to people 50 and older for more than half a century, and has 40 million members—but is it anti-gun?


A few years ago I turned 55—a scary time for a guy who had to buy his own health insurance on the open market. Talk about sticker shock! So I thought, why not join AARP, the mega-senior’s organization? Surely they have some sort of group medical insurance a member can piggyback on. It was only after I had purchased a multi-year membership that I decided to research this powerful special interest group and see what their official position was on issues important to me. First and foremost was the issue of gun ownership. What I discovered surprised the heck out of me.

I did not know at the time know that AARP wanted to severely restrict its membership’s right to own firearms.

That was back in 2007. Here’s what their website said at the time: “AARP believes in the Constitutional right to bear arms. But to make the nation safer, we must do what we can to keep guns out of hands of children and criminals. AARP supported the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which went into law in 1994 with bi-partisan support. AARP supports measures to eliminate firearm possession by juveniles, convicted domestic abusers and those under domestic violence restraining orders.”

I called their headquarters and, after playing phone tag to try and get a statement to no avail, finally received an e-mail response from them after asking for their official position on private gun ownership. Here, in part, was the response from someone in “Member Services.”

“Thank you for contacting AARP headquarters on the issue of state and federal gun policies. This is a difficult subject for people to discuss without misunderstanding. Even though you may not agree with AARP's objectives on this one issue, I hope you find our work toward prescription drug coverage in Medicare, for example, and many other important issues worthy of your continued support.

“At this time, the Board of Directors has recently restated AARP policy to continue to support careful measures to restrict the availability of guns to certain populations. Yet, our policy does not preclude responsible citizens who are educated in gun safety from gun ownership.

“However, respected research continues to indicate that the use of firearms in assaults and robbery—particularly handguns—is directly linked to the high death rate from interpersonal violence in the USA compared with other industrialized countries. The prevalence of random violence featuring handguns in some neighborhoods has resulted in numbers of older people becoming virtual prisoners in their homes. Increasingly, families are suffering the loss of children and grandchildren who are the victims of violent crimes and senseless shootings. While registration requirements do not eliminate criminal or psychotic misuse of handguns, such requirements reduce the availability of guns, just as laws do not eliminate but do reduce the availability of illegal narcotics. Reduced availability to inappropriate users means lives saved. While you may disagree with the Board on this particular policy, we hope that many other issues, objectives, and services of AARP so beneficial to older Americans encourage you to remain or become a valued member of the association.”

Talk about a misinterpretation of statistics to support a policy of restricted private gun ownership. No mention of the fact that there are laws already on the books written to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons. No mention of the fact that in states where concealed carry laws occur, violent crime drops dramatically. (In fact, in states that have passed liberal carry laws, deaths and injuries from multiple-victim public shootings have fallen on average by 78 percent in the past half-decade.) Or the fact that a high percentage of juvenile gunshot victims are injured by inner-city gangbangers, often in turf wars over drugs. Or readily available statistics from places like England, where handguns were banned in 1996, yet in the years since the ban, gun crimes have risen 40 percent. The country now has eclipses the U.S. in robberies and aggravated assaults by a wide margin, and is rapidly catching up in murders and rapes.

Fast forward to 2013. With all the hullaballoo about a new “assault weapons ban” and all the other proposed gun-grabbing legislation on the front burner today, I decided to revisit AARP and see if their position had changed. Before contacting AARP directly I scanned their website searching for a stated policy position on gun control. I looked high and low, even using search engines and spending the better part of two hours in the process. No luck. So I sent an e-mail in early February to the Member Services Division. On February 25 I sent it again. Here’s what it said: “Good morning! I am a working press member and also an AARP member. A quick question. Given all the recent hoopla concerning private gun ownership and proposals to restrict the ownership of certain types of firearms, magazines, etc., my readers have been asking me what AARP's official position is on the topic. Can you provide me with a statement that describes AARP's position and/or a person I might speak with by phone? I thank you! Sincerely, Robert Robb, XXXX cell phone, AARP member XXX XXX 235 4.”

Finally, on March 5, 2013 I received the following e-mail:

“Dear Mr. Robb:

Thank you for contacting AARP about our policy concerning firearms. This is a difficult subject for people to discuss. I appreciate your sharing your views with us.

“AARP policy does not "ban all guns." Our policy targets only inappropriate gun purchasers, not responsible citizens. Here is the statement passed by our Board of Directors:

“Congress should eliminate gaps in and strengthen enforcement of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and other federal gun laws. States should enact legislation to eliminate gaps in, and strengthen enforcement of, federal and state gun laws, particularly with regard to possession by juveniles, convicted domestic abusers and those under domestic violence restraining orders.

“AARP continues to support careful measures to improve the enforcement of existing federal and state laws. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, homicides are most often committed with guns, especially handguns. In 2005, 55% of homicides were committed with handguns, 16% with other guns, 14% with knives, 5% with blunt objects, and 11% with other weapons. Recent research indicates that lethal violence in the US far outpaces other Western nations. AARP policy reflects concern that crime-especially violent crime-may have particularly severe consequences for older people and teens.

“AARP policymaking is an ongoing process. Our all-volunteer National Policy Council thoughtfully develops each policy, after reviewing the pros and cons. Then the Council makes recommendations to the Board of Directors, who are also all volunteers. Both groups are made up of a distinguished cross-section of AARP members. All our public policies are carefully reviewed biennially and the Council makes recommendations on issues annually or more frequently as needed. Communications from members, like yours, contribute to establishing, strengthening and updating our policies.

“I hope this information has been helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact us if there is any way we may be of assistance in the future. Thank you again for taking the time to get in touch. It is an important part of our job to consider carefully the concerns of every member.”

Member Communications

In other words, their policy has not changed. If this bothers you—as it bothers me—I urge you to contact AARP with your opinions and concerns, especially if you are a member. They are reached at 1-888-687-2277; When I canceled my membership, they knew exactly how I felt.

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50 Responses to Does the AARP Still Want Your Guns?

Michael Daniels wrote:
March 16, 2014

Was a member and a 'Sr. Safe Driver' instructor' for AARP. Have dropped membership completly and requests sent to my Senators and representitives to NOT LISTEN to ANY AARP requests/comments. I have found them to be closed minded and selectively objective when many issues are discussed. Healthcare and firearms are the top two issues. The organization has gotten too big and is no longer representing the members. AARP claims to be the voice of Sr.s, yet they do not educate the members (tell the entire truth.) As a retired Vet of 24 years, I see my health care taken away. I see the desire of some to remove the device from my home, the same device I had to use in Veit Nam to Iraq to protect the USA and my buddies.

Jim S wrote:
March 14, 2014

I quit AARP 4 years ago (after a 2 year membership) when their policies became more and more liberal. My wife had a multi-year membership and allowed it to expire because of AARP's support of Obamacare and their anti-gun stance. AARP saw Obamacare as a means of raking in millions by selling supplemental insurance to Obamacare. They essentially have sold out their membership.

Jon Stephens wrote:
January 28, 2014

I cnacelled my membership in November and I still get requests to renew my membership, I send them back in their prepaid envelopes noted, 'forward to Obama' not interested.

Dennis S. wrote:
January 28, 2014

I quit AARP two years ago, primarily because they supported and benefited from Obamacare. They stopped sending me their magazine only a couple months ago. I only hope they're not still counting me as a member.

Vic Paterno wrote:
January 18, 2014

AARP also wanted a waiver for Obamacare. The subject seems to have gotten lost but think it was granted. They endorse their insurance because they are the sales agents and work on commission.

Saul Monella wrote:
December 21, 2013

AARP wanted the ACA (obamacare) enacted so they can sell BILLIONS in add-on insurance! They're ONLY for themselves.

MF wrote:
December 20, 2013

Why did you all join AARP in the first place and give them you money for all those years? They have been anti-gun for years and years and you are just now waking up. You all need to educate yourselves on al the anti gun organizations, companies, and especially politicians!

Larry wrote:
November 09, 2013

Was a member, but left my membership run out. Not going to renew it. My veiws are not the same as what their polices are. They support Obama and not the 2nd amendment.

Thomas Berg wrote:
November 03, 2013

I have steadfastly refused to join AARP as well. I am a pharmacist and in addition to its lousy political positions, it runs the biggest mail-order pharmacy around. In my opinion, mail-order pharmacy is unethical and so is AARP.

Stephen J Boehm wrote:
October 23, 2013

I've had many discussions with AARP over the years after I terminated my business with them over their policies concerning 2nd Amendment rights. I've tried to learn their reasoning behind their policy, I have tried to explain why I thought it was flawed all to no avail. I have tried to unsubscribe to their relentless harassment to re-join. It is obvious their interest is not in helping me as much as it is to help themselves to my money or they would honor my wishes not to do business with them. Sending back the prepaid envelopes stuffed with their own paper work or other papers on the constitution has slowed down the deluge but not stopped it completely, I imagine they are hoping as I get older I will get more forgetful and join. Well the first is possible but the second will never happen.

Robert Elsea wrote:
October 03, 2013

I will never join AARP due to there views on handguns.

Larry Baber wrote:
August 05, 2013

I have never belonged to AARP but continually get their solicitations even after telling them where they could stick the application. They are all about money. I demand the senior citizen rate when I do business with an establishment that gives an AARP discount.

Woody Richter wrote:
July 21, 2013

The AARP has been and still is a big supporter of the Obummer. I would not give the AARP one dime to support them so they can support Obummer. For a good alternative, check out 'Generation America' - a much more 'friendly' alternative.

Vance wrote:
July 11, 2013

Or readily available statistics from places like England, where handguns were banned in 1996, yet in the years since the ban, gun crimes have risen 40 percent. The country now has eclipses the U.S. in robberies and aggravated assaults by a wide margin, and is rapidly catching up in murders and rapes. Where do you derive your support to this statement? I want to be able to point people to a source for my arguments along this line. Sources please.

Mike wrote:
June 18, 2013

Is it anti 2A? Why yes, yes it is. It is also pro obamacare.

David Buckner wrote:
June 11, 2013

Like many organizations with nice sounding names, the AARP has a political agenda that is not even close to any of my beliefs and I have no desire to renew my membership. I did find another organization, AMAC, that more closely represents my positions.

John wrote:
June 10, 2013

I had a five year membership, and let it run out years ago. I don't plan to renewal. They have been more interested in selling you insurance, and not serving the seniors!

Al musto wrote:
May 30, 2013

I find AARP to be an organization who cares more about their own being than that of the seniors it is supposed to represent, try their money saving claims on health ins., auto ins, and product endorsements.I have been a member for over 18 years, and I am fed up with their lies and support of non American values. As soon as I finish this message I am sending in my resignation.Seniors don't be fooled

Ben Rinehart wrote:
May 29, 2013

Changing the subject for a minute. Between the 2 calibers listed which one would be more for the bang and cost effect for protection while hunting as a back up. Speeking revolvers. Sorry. I am not sure.

Hunter63 wrote:
May 26, 2013

Wow... I had no idea

William Westmoreland wrote:
May 23, 2013

My wife and I canceled our policy with them last year over their political stance. We try to spread the word.

Rob wrote:
May 21, 2013

I have refused to join despite multiple mailings due to their consistent liberal bent, including their anti gun position. Why would I send money that supports anti gun politicians?

Mike Peach wrote:
May 10, 2013

Even if they had no stated position on guns they would still be (indirectly) anti-gun. Just check out the candidates they endorse or oppose.

Bill K wrote:
May 08, 2013

I dropped them in 2009 when they supported the Senate taking $700 Billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare. That showed me they did not have their member's best interest in mind, only their own health insurance business growth. Make no mistake, they are an insurance company using membership money to fund their business.

Dr Mark Stempski wrote:
May 01, 2013

I really like the idea of not telling them to quit sending cards so that they use resources foolishly. I am curious to know how they view illegal immigration, gay marriage, US involvement in the UN, minimum wage and of course civilian disarmament. In as much as they are using the weasel words of the socialists, and trying to redefine terms I suspect that I know their stance on my list above. Amazing how a whole bunch of bad and evil ideas get clumped together and pushed by the same group. Please encourage all your AARP friends to help deplete the AARP war chest. there are much better options out there.

Henderson wrote:
April 26, 2013

Never joined and tell everyone who will listen about there views on gun control

Richard White wrote:
April 24, 2013

I resigned from AARP several years ago when I realized that they were more interested in my funding to pursue their own political causes that had nothing to do with helping seniors.

Ken wrote:
April 23, 2013

Association of Mature American Citizens is one conservative alternative to the AARP/Brady Bunch.

Thomas wrote:
April 23, 2013

I years back I figured out that AARP was in it for themselves this was confirmed with I obummer care. I will join the conservative version when I can in a couple of years!

Bill wrote:
April 20, 2013

Do not throw away those AARP mailings. Instead, send back the empty envelope with your message on the back.

D. Michael Bradley wrote:
April 20, 2013

Thanks for the info!! I'm a life NRA member & will be canceling my AARP membership pronto. The criminal environment created and supported by illegal drugs which are easily available inspite of police attempts to enforce the many laws on the books should make it obvious that restrictions DO NOT WORK. In the case of drugs they created a very lucrative business - the more restrictive the gun laws are the more potential for a profitably criminal business!

Tom Morse wrote:
April 20, 2013

I am 72 and knew of AARP gun policy way back before they started sending membership info. Every time I receive a application with a business reply envelope I stuff it with as much pro-gun material & junk as it will hold. Makes it very heavy and cost them plenty on the return postage. Been doing it for years. Understand they have to pay at least $0.80 just for empty envelope.

CCWholder wrote:
April 19, 2013

I joined AARP 25 years ago and as soon as I read their stand on gun ownership and saw they were aligned with 'The Brandy Bunch', I cut-up my membership card and mailed it in to them with the reason why. That was so many years ago I can't remember what year it was. I now cut-up their mailings and send it back to them in their self-paid envelopes.

Sprint20 wrote:
April 19, 2013

Whenever I receive the AARP mailings, they go directly into the trash. I will not contribute to, or support their agenda. I am an NRA Benefactor member that will support the NRA. Perhaps the NRA should volunteer a spokesperson to sit on this 'board' to educate the AARP staff. It would be interesting to see if the AARP would be open to this suggestion.

Tom wrote:
April 19, 2013

Quit AARP last year. Joined AMAC. Different policy on guns.

Dave Frost wrote:
April 19, 2013

I cancelled when they insisted on supporting Obamacare and got a 5-year refund along with many thousands of other Americans. But they stick by whatever the most liberal of the liberal think and publish spurious statistics about! They have NO business having a policy on anything but insurance!

Gary wrote:
April 19, 2013

Looks like AARP will be losing another NRA Life Member. I try my best to support organizations that support our Constitutional rights. This one clearly does not. Thanks for the information.

hunter wrote:
April 19, 2013

Idissaprove of the Brady faction in this country. When you work for the President of this great nation you run into many dangerous situations. That is the chance you take in a risky occupation.We didn't hear President Reagan cry out to disarm the public. He knew it was a nut with an illegal gun and a crazy agenda.He used common sense which Idon't think Mr. Brady has or ever will have.

MichiganLou wrote:
April 18, 2013

Never wanted to join AARP. They are way too liberal for me. Your article proves the point. Thanks for posting it.

J R Demaree wrote:
April 18, 2013

I left thte AARP when they supported the abominable 'Obamacare' and I will never be back.

Al wrote:
April 18, 2013

I was a member back in 2007 and promptly cancelled my membership and demanded a refund of my remaining dues when they endorsed then candidate Barack Obama for President. That was enough for me and I've never even considered rejoining. Looks like my instincts were spot-on...

Donald Kersey wrote:
April 18, 2013

I am sure AARP didn't vote to take 700 Billion out of what little bit of help we get now, AARP has been for us till now. my membership just ran out , and until they get off abomas list, and stop voting his way my membership will not be renewed

BigIron wrote:
April 18, 2013

I joined AARP for a while about 15 years ago. When I found out their antigun agenda I looked for a way to contact AARP and express my displeasure and found none. ByeBye, AARP! ... never again. They are also one of the groups who helped to push through Obamacare. There is another organization, Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC), that represents 'seniors'; I am considering joining that group.

Greg Russell wrote:
April 18, 2013

I`ve had no use for this group for quite some time. I work in the Pharmaceutical industry, and they seem to feel that the Pharma industry should all work for free, so that they may get their prescriptions for nearly nothing. It doesn`t surprise me in the least that they`re anti-gun. I`ve never beena member, and never will.

Digitus wrote:
April 18, 2013

I learned of their policy years ago. In an email exchange with them, they tried to play word games indicating that they weren't anti-gun, but as your research has shown, the net effect is that they _are_ anti-gun. I still get junk mail from them. I don't bother to tell them that I don't want their junk mail. I want to help deplete their funds so that they will find themselves out-of-business. Can't happen soon enough to suit me. I'm looking into AMAC!

Clifford Reynolds wrote:
April 18, 2013

I would not even consider the AARP when I tuned 55. I do not agree with many of their stands on issues and in particular their stand on gun control.

Drake Seeley wrote:
April 18, 2013

Want to join a 'seniors' advocacy organization that actually aligns with more conservative views? Look into the relatively new, Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC).

Castaway wrote:
April 13, 2013

They make the majority of their income from selling/endorsing insurance plans not representing seniors. I quit the day they supported Congress taking $700 billion (yes billion) from Medicare to help fund Obamacare. They did a terrible disservice to their members to boost their insurance business.

jon wrote:
April 12, 2013

I cancelled a few years ago and now I wish I could cancel again.

DSMbirddog wrote:
April 11, 2013

Well, isn't that interesting that they have a policy at all. I guess that is one mebership I won't be renewing if they align themselves in any way with the Brady bunch. Thanks for keeping us informed.