(WILMINGTON, N.C.) -- When James Juma purchases a .45 semi-automatic next week he wants to be ready.
"I want to make sure I know the law just in case I have to use it," said Mr. Juma, a Wilmington resident.
Mr. Juma was one of about 30 people who participated in a handgun safety awareness course Friday sponsored by the New Hanover County Sheriff's Department and the Health Department. Participants were taught about handgun laws, safety and storage.
"People tend to think they can solve all their problems with guns," said Lt. Joseph McCarthy, who has been teaching the course for several years. "Law enforcement officers are sworn to protect and serve and even we can't just open fire on people."
Lt. McCarthy said the 20-year-old Wilmington course was initially targeted to women who were home a lot and wanted to know how to protect themselves. Afterward it was extended to seniors and other specific groups. However, Lt. McCarthy said as time went on, it became apparent that many people were unfamiliar with the laws and operation of handguns.
He listed a number of incidents where victims of would-be-robbers faced jail time for improper use of weapons.
"Even if it is your home, you don't have the right to set up bear traps," he said.
Participants were also taught the difference between various guns, how to clean them, and how to keep them away from children. Lt. McCarthy said the course also is important for safety reasons.
"We don't want anyone to shoot themselves or a loved one," he said.
Participants were given free trigger locks and will be offered an opportunity to shoot on the Sheriff's Department firing range. There, Lt. McCarthy will show them breath control and how to grip the weapon and stand with it.
"It's more than just pulling the trigger, shooting is an art form which some people spend their entire life learning," Lt. McCarthy said.
Nina McMillian said she wanted to learn how to shoot a weapon for protection from an ex who is giving her trouble.
(iSyndicate; Sunday Star-News; Oct. 22, 2000). Terms and Conditions: Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.