A Firearm Life Plan for Responsible Gun Owners

I had the pleasure of meeting, eating, and chatting with emergency medicine doctor and epidemiologist Marian “Emmy” Betz last week at the authors’ workshop I attended at UCONN-Hartford. I had seen Dr. Betz regularly on Twitter and knew something of her work from an article she published in the American Journal of Public Health on which gun educator Rob Pincus was a co-author (discussed in a video on my “Light Over Heat” YouTube channel).

One of the most interesting and significant projects on which Dr. Betz has been working was unveiled recently: the Firearm Life Plan. As the plan’s website says, “A Firearm Life Plan is a voluntary, personal plan made between a firearm owner and those they trust.”

A Firearm Life Plan will help a firearm owner be prepared. The Firearm Inventory worksheet outlines what someone wants done with their firearms, and when. The Legacy Map lets someone share the importance of firearms in their life and preserve their memories.

In my view, thinking about and planning for physical, emotional, and cognitive changes we may go through in life, and what the disposition of our firearms will be as we experience those changes (to include our inevitable deaths), is something all responsible gun owners should do. The Firearm Life Plan is an important tool to these ends.

Many gun owners like to talk about their firearms as “tools,” and beyond guns often fancy themselves Homo habilis, “handy humans.” After all, as Thomas Carlyle said, “Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.”

The Firearm Life Plan is a handy tool for responsible gun owners, whether one executes a formal plan or just uses it to initiate and guide an important discussion.

Easier said than done, of course. I spoke with a reporter from Kaiser Health News recently about the Firearm Life Plan, and in the course of that conversation, I came to realize that I have not thought at all about the issues raised by the plan. And I certainly consider myself a responsible gun owner.

I am also overdue in revising my will, have been wanting to look into establishing a living trust, don’t know what my advance directives (“living will”) say or where they are, haven’t discussed with my wife and kids how I want my body disposed of when I die, and so on.

No one I know wants to think about psychological or emotional challenges, cognitive decline, or death. So I am filing the Firearm Life Plan under needs not wants.

Excuse me while I go make an appointment to see my attorney.


  1. Judith Graham called me too on Emmy’s recommendation and I chatted with her about a couple of things I thought should be included in their presentation.

    I’ve had a verbal with my wife and my former post-doc, who agreed to help dispose of my firearms in consultation with my brother. Gave him the safe combo. Have to check the will to see if it needs revision.


  2. It is possible to donate your body to science post-mortem. I set myself up with a university in Florida where I currently live. Many people do not know that there are two major paths you can take on this option: the for-profit body shop path that may “part you out” like an auto graveyard, and the university path. You can discern which is which while researching this online by their approach.
    The body shop will reassure you and the next of kin that they will take care of everything at no cost to you. The university requires a bit of effort: your next of kin has to arrange for PARTIAL embalming of your remains and have them transported to the college (
    The body shops have gotten into trouble over the years. An investigative article by a Reuters journalist showed it was relatively easy for him to order a human SPINE to be delivered to his address (https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-bodies-cody/). In another story, a corpse was used as an Army test subject in a bomb blast experiment (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-army-blast-testing-dead-body-chair-bomb-explosion-a9029121.html).
    Be wary of how and to whom you donate your body.


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