While Alabama's new gun law does not pose drastic changes for everyday residents, firearms are still top of mind. The discussion is prompting many people to consider, should they carry a gun?
Law enforcement is sending a strong, sobering message about the personal responsibility of gun ownership. The most important question, may possibly be something you ask yourself. "Are you mentally prepared for what happens when you pull your weapon?" stresses MPD Lieutenant Regina Duckett.
Duckett cannot change the new gun law, but she and her colleagues are attempting to change the paradigm of gun owners, "Lets say someone is trying to rob you. Is it worth killing someone over a debit card, or ten to twenty dollars in petty cash. Is it worth risking someone's life, or someone around you over something you can replace?"
The response could not only save someone else's life, but yours as well. Duckett reminds citizens, simply pulling a firearm can invoke violence, even a shootout with a criminal. A decision any gun owner should make before confronted with a threatening situation. "If you pull a weapon to scare someone off, you are not using it for the right reason…if you shoot and kill a suspect, you have to deal with that."
The new law also addresses "open carry": using a weapon without a permit. In those instances, the firearm must be displayed at all times. The law requires those who open carry, to load and unload their weapons in the parking lot. The guns must be stored separately from the ammunition, and out of reach of the driver. Those citizens are advised to do so discreetly, and keep the gun out of sight when stored inside the vehicle.
In the same regard, Duckett encourages open carry participants to research the best gun holster for their weapon. "If you chose to openly carry a firearm, you need to consider how you're carrying it. Do you know how to take it out, and put it back? Do you know how to retain that weapon? Somebody could easily come up, and grab it and go, or hopefully never use it against you."
Lt. Stephen Lavender, teaches MPD's civilian Firearms Familiarization Course, and advises anyone who has a weapon or plans to buy one to attend. "You need to understand what that weapon will do." Lavender states.
While attendees won't experience the entire reality of shooting a gun in a hostile environment, they will gain a better understanding of the emotional and physical impact of using a gun. "We cover three different things in this class: ability, opportunity and jeopardy. Does that person have the ability to cause harm to you? Does he have the opportunity? Do you feel like your life is in jeopardy, and if you don't do something right now you are going to die? If those three things are coupled together, it might not be the right time to use my weapon."
Lavender also educates gun owners about how to store firearms, and whether they should leave it loaded and unloaded at night. "Say you're asleep, and allowed your 18 year old to stay out late that night. We've had instances in this country where a mother forgot she told her son he could stay out late, and (forgetting) shot the child as he came into the house. We talk about those situations. Do you put it under your pillow, do you keep it in a nightstand? We recommend you separate them (gun and bullets) if you are at home. By the time you wake up, you load the weapon, and you might realize then, you forgot you told your child they could stay out late. Otherwise, if the gun is loaded and the owner is spooked, they could do something that's tragic."
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