Use guns with caution, awareness

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 6, 2008

NATCHEZ — Every American has the right to protect themselves in the case of a crime by whatever means possible.

In the South, it’s not difficult to find houses with loaded guns in tow. Police don’t advise that weapons be used in the case of a home invasion burglary, but they don’t tell you that you can’t.

Certain steps should be followed, though, if loaded guns are in the house.

Email newsletter signup

With gun ownership comes gun safety responsibilities, Metro Narcotics agent Maj. Cliff Cox said.

“To even have a gun in the first place you need to go through training courses and familiarize yourself with it,” Cox said.

Along with educating yourself, you need to educate your children about gun safety, Cox said.

“They need to be told not to touch them,” he said.

Likewise, keeping the gun out of the reach of children is of utmost importance.

“The primary thing with weapon placement in the home is keeping it out of the reach of children,” Cox said. “A nosy child who is unfamiliar with a weapon could just pick it up and look down the barrel.”

The National Rifle Association also offers several tips, which include making sure the gun is safe to operate and will function properly, not using guns while using alcohol or drugs and making sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt, and that the area behind and around it are also clear.

But guns aren’t the only measure residents can take to protect themselves and their loved ones, Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy Chuck Latham said.

The county has nine Neighborhood Watch programs, and all have been a great success, Latham said.

“It’s just so beneficial for a neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a well-organized way for neighbors to look out for each other.”

The program encourages neighbors to get to know each other, to learn what cars belong at what houses and to be suspicious of new faces.

Latham also said over the last five years several big cases have been solved using tips that came from local watch groups.

Downtown Natchez doesn’t have any active Neighborhood Watch groups, Mullins said, but neighbors can still be mindful of their surroundings.

“Look out for yourself and your neighbors,” he said.

Anyone wanting to start a watch group in their area can contact either the ACSO or NPD.