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Equip Your Wheelchair-Bound Customers

Equip Your Wheelchair-Bound Customers

Your physically challenged customers have a particular need for your knowledge and recommendations. These customers are vulnerable to criminal attack, as predators seek the weakest prey. When a wheelchair-dependent individual comes to your business to buy their first gun, or when a formerly able-bodied gun owner finds himself in a wheelchair and wants to adapt, you and your staff need to be ready to provide advice and the right products.

Handguns

The first big question for those confined to a wheelchair is, “Where do you put the defensive pistol or revolver?” No matter how many handguns an able-bodied customer has stored in his home, they are of limited use when he can no longer sprint to the storage location. The person who “lives in the chair” needs to keep his firearm and other survival tools close.

The next big question: should the handgun be strapped to the chair or carried on the body? Both options have pros and cons. Attached to the chair, the firearm is always in the same place and discomfort issues are pretty much eliminated. However, disabled persons are often not in a wheelchair.

Holstered on the body, the gun is constantly accessible. The downside, however, can be comfort. The strong-side hip holster, the most popular among the gun-buying public, is awkward to reach when sitting. A neutral-cant holster, worn in a crossdraw, places the butt forward, making the gun much more accessible to someone in a sitting position. The same is true of the shoulder holster, which is really just a higher-riding variation of a crossdraw holster.

Your chair-bound customer may find a bellyband — which can be adjusted for wear anyplace from across the chest to lower abdomen — is a more comfortable alternative. The fanny pack holster, such as the DeSantis Gunny Sack, rests in the lap and can be more comfortable on a seated wearer than one standing.

The Gun Holster Adapter (inset) and Concealed Carry Pouch from Scot Works LLC provide an excellent carry option for wheelchair-bound gun owners. Visit www.scotworksllc.com.

Carefully Consider Customer’s Abilities

When reviewing the options with your chair-bound customers, discuss the best alternatives if they are forcibly separated from the chair. A common tactic among street punks is to overturn a wheelchair, throwing its occupant to the ground and greatly reducing his mobility. With the on-the-body carry, the victim can still draw and fight back from the ground.

Encourage your customer to explore both personal carry and wheelchair-attached alternatives, particularly if they also plan to hunt or take part in competitive shooting. In these situations, larger and heavier guns are more convenient and sometimes even more accessible to carry in chair attachments.

Scot Works LLC of Wilderville, Ore., offers a smart option. The company’s Gun Holster Adaptor and Concealed Carry Pouch mount to a customer’s wheelchair. Designer Scot Shearer, who is confined to a wheelchair, designed the pouch with a quick-release cover that conceals the holstered gun. This makes the product adaptable to daily use in public, as well as for hunting, other outdoors activities and competition.

For dealer information, contact Scot Shearer, Scot Works CEO, at (541) 476-7824 or email: scot@nullscotworksllc.com. Also visit www.scotworksllc.com.

Some customers may have to switch to a different handgun once they are wheelchair bound. One of my students was adept with a 1911 .45 until he was afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. When he could no longer “make the time” for a pistol qualification course, he switched to a higher-capacity, lighter kicking 9mm pistol. The prescribed fix got him to where he wanted to be.

Long-Gun Options

A rifle or shotgun is another option, however, the forward weight of a long gun can be awkward to handle for someone confined to a wheelchair. A rifle in a bullpup design may be the best option, such as the Steyr AUG or FN F2000 in .223. Another option is the Kel-Tec Sub-2000 pistol caliber (9mm and .40 S&W) carbine. Its center of gravity is to the rear — as the magazine is in the butt like a pistol — making it easier to manipulate from a sitting position.

The rifles I’ve mentioned have light recoil, which is an important factor for your wheelchair-bound customer. A hard-kicking long gun, such as the classic 12-gauge home-defense shotgun, even in 20-gauge, presents problems when used from a wheelchair.

Unless the customer has enough lower-limb function to tense his leg muscles and lean forward, he will experience extreme muzzle lift and slow recovery between shots. In addition, if the back of the chair is resilient, the hammering recoil of a powerful shoulder weapon can crush the shoulder joint between the gun butt and the back of the chair.

A solution is to tuck the shotgun’s stock under the armpit and against the back of the chair. However, using this method while training with powerful loads may rip through backing of the chair. A lighter-kicking carbine solves these problems.

There are a number of other products that you should consider recommending for customers in a wheelchair. A laser sight is an excellent option for those whose physical condition prevents them from raising a gun to line of sight.

Protection Resource

Your knowledge is as much your stock in trade as any SKU you have on the shelf. Your ability to help a handicapped customer get “up and running,” at least in this respect, will give you particular satisfaction in your role as a personal protection resource in your community. More importantly, you may help someone who is perceived to be helpless be able to protect himself and his loved ones.
Massad Ayoob

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  1. Jonathan Bennet says:

    Good folks at Shooting Industry magazine,
    I am not sure if this is the correct forum to address this, but my neighbor and shooting buddy (Tony) is a 100% diaabled Vet, suffering from a yet to be identified neuro muscular disorder. He currently uses a walker and wheelchair for mobility and has muscle spaticity issue. He may move slow, but he can still beat me on the range! Question: He is on a fixed income – are there any organizations that you have heard about that might donate ammunition? I have been supplying 22LR for the last 2 years or so, along with “buy one for my rifle, buy one for his too”. My wife is putting her foot down on ammo buying for the neighbor as I have been buying ELEY target and SK standard plus. (hey they shoot really well!) I am not looking for a handout for myself, I would go broke buying ammo as long as he is capable of pulling the trigger…just not allowed to anymore.
    If you know of any company, program or organization that may be able to assist, I would really appreciate it if you could let me know.
    Thanks, hope you have a great day.
    V/R,
    Jonny Bennet

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