Preserve The Legacy of Your Firearms

May 4, 2022
Mike Sampson

We’ve all heard the old saying about the certainty of death and taxes. 

Reportedly, Benjamin Franklin in 1789 wrote “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

And Christopher Bullock, an English actor and dramatist, is credited with uttering the following quote during “The Cobler of Preston” in 1716: “Tis impossible to be sure of anything but Death and Taxes.”

Several years ago and seeing the need for plans on my death, I worked with my lawyer to write my will and advanced healthcare directives. I also realized my need to designate what will happen to my firearms, equipment and ammo with any potential disability and eventual death. 

So I made a list and chose a close friend to be the recipient of my firearms legacy. On that list I included the make and model, serial number (sorry, no ghost guns), year of manufacture if I could track that down, and a brief history of why I got the firearm and where, and in some cases, what I paid. I also noted where the firearms are located. 

I shared my plans and the list with my estate’s executor who also is my considerably younger recipient.

My thought was that responsible firearms ownership does involve planning for the future, even if death and/or disability are not topics we enjoy discussing.

Part of the impetus to consider my firearms legacy has been triggered by long-time friends who unfortunately had no plans for their weapons and had to sell them. In other cases, survivors had the the task of disposing of what in some cases is a lifelong legacy, without any guidance.

A recent article from Kaiser Health News entitled “Advance Care Planning for Guns: How Owners Can Help Ensure Safe Use and Transfer of Their Weapons” reported that Colorado researchers have published a tool to help gun owners and family members plan ahead for safe firearm use and transfers in the event of disability or death.

Take a look at plan information at and see how such a firearms plan may help you with important decisions you can share with those whom you trust.

The 12-page Firearm Life Plan pretty much mirrors what I did and includes four parts to help guide decisions. The sample firearm inventory chart on page 8 is particularly valuable, and all pages are worth a read, so click on the plan link here for ideas. The plan’s tools include:

1.     The Firearm Life Plan stresses personal responsibility, safety and the importance of being prepared, themes that older owners and family members emphasized in focus groups conducted by researchers.
2.     A second part features conversation prompts for family members and friends who might be concerned about an older gun owner and for older adults who recognize the value of planning ahead.
3.     The third piece of the Firearm Life Plan is the most straightforward. It calls for people to create an inventory of their firearms, where they’re stored (including codes to lockboxes, storage sheds and gun safes), who should get the firearms when the owner dies or is willing to relinquish them, and when transfers should occur.
4.     The fourth component of the guide is a “legacy” section that asks gun owners to share memories and stories about their firearms and what they’ve meant to them.

The obvious goal of the voluntary plan is to consider one’s possible declining capabilities, safe storage, injury prevention and ultimately the desired transfer of your firearms. For all firearms owners, situational awareness and planning ahead always are better than not having a plan. That’s what I have done to Stay safe, be prepared.

Preserving your firearms legacy assures transfer of history, valuable information and firearms to those who will receive this legacy. ~ Mike

Mike Sampson
Mike now calls Northwestern Arkansas home but has lived and worked in several states and internationally. He has been an independent contractor and consultant since 2006 specializing in risk management, emergency management and training. In addition to work as a law-enforcement planner and technical writer with the Boise, Idaho, Police Department, he has experience in journalism, crop and animal agriculture, dryland farming for 20 years in western Kansas, plant and animal diseases, pandemic influenza, agroterrorism, bioterrorism, food safety and healthcare marketing.

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