Las Vegas Sun

July 21, 2017

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With explosion in firearm sales, time is ripe for Metro’s gun-safety discussion

Everyone grimaced at one of the first slides shown during Metro Police's First Tuesday open house discussion on gun safety.

The slide showed a bare foot with a gaping bullet hole between the toes — a lucky result of what can happen when a gun is mishandled. That slide kicked off Metro’s gun safety presentation Tuesday night at the Metro Police Southeast Area Command substation.

Every first Tuesday of the month, each Metro Police area command substation holds an open house on a different topic. With a spike of more than 25,000 handgun registrations in Las Vegas over the past three months and a total of 1.2 million registered firearms in Clark County, the conversation on gun safety could not have been timelier.

“With talks of possibly controlling gun legislation, it’s important to tell citizens that if they are going to go out and are going to buy firearms — especially with the increase we’ve seen — that they’re safe with them,” Metro Police officer Shaun Woodard said. “So that we don’t have accidental deaths due to firearms.”

About 25 residents who live near the Southeast Area Command on Harmon Avenue attended the discussion. Woodard led the conversation on gun safety imparting basic tips on how to properly store a firearm and handle one.

He stressed the importance of storing a gun unloaded and in a safe, either alerting or educating a child about the gun, and locking up the ammunition. When it came to handling guns, he suggested handling each one like it is loaded, keeping the finger off the trigger until ready to fire and pointing the muzzle only at targets.

While many people are purchasing handguns to protect themselves, Woodard said they are only putting themselves and others into more danger if they don’t follow basic safety protocol.

Improperly stored guns run the risk of being stolen and used in future shootings and crimes, or in the hands of curious children. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 8 percent of unintentional shooting deaths from 2005 to 2010 resulted from shots fired by children under age 6.

“Everybody needs to be concerned if they have a firearm in the house because inherently it’s not the firearm that’s dangerous, it’s the people using them,” Woodard said. “Good people with firearms aren’t committing the crimes, it’s the bad people who get a hold of the firearms that are committing the crimes.”

Woodard also stressed the importance for a person to find the right gun for him or her. Above everything else, a person should feel confident that they could fire their gun at an attacker or invader if necessary before buying a gun.

While the topic of firearms can be a hot-button issue for some, many of the residents listened with curiosity throughout the meeting. Resident and gun owner Robert Saccavino found the event informative and invaluable for the community.

Saccavino owns both a shotgun and handgun; he knows how to handle both. Still, with more people purchasing guns for their own safety as burglary rates continue to rise, he said there is no better time than now to spread the information.

“I know the rules, and I’m very safe with my firearms,” Saccavino said. “But I think it was very important they have this class to teach people who don’t have any idea (about gun safety), but are thinking about getting a gun.”

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