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Police classes aim to teach gun safety

Free program includes Project
HomeSafe locking devices for firearms

Written By WENDY REEVES 13 July 2000

Deborah Douglas bought a pistol several years ago
but has never taken it out of the box.

The truth is, she says, she was afraid of the
weapon. That's why she attended a free gun safety
program offered by Huntsville police Wednesday. It
was the first of a series of classes the department is
offering to residents. Those who attend the
hour-and-a-half course get a free Project HomeSafe
gun locking device.

As Douglas was leaving the Police Academy
building on Airport Road after the Wednesday class,
she carried a plastic tube containing a locking device
in her hand and wore a big smile. ''I'm not as scared
as I was before,'' she said.

Now, she said, she feels comfortable enough to at
least take her gun out of the box - and put the locking
device on it. But she still wants to learn even more
about the weapon, said Douglas, one of 23 people
who showed up.


''Me and a girlfriend both bought guns a couple of
years ago . . . we even bought a box of bullets to
share, but I've never used either of them,'' she said.

Learning everything you can about a firearm you
own is a must, said officer Tommy Presley, who
teaches the class. Knowing and practicing gun
safety is another.

For gun owners, he suggested seven basic rules:

Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.

Never point a firearm at anything you don't intend to
shoot.

Always keep the weapon's safety on until you're
ready to fire.

Practice operating the gun unloaded before you ever
shoot it.

Always keep your finger off the trigger until you're
ready to shoot.

Never use any type of drugs or alcohol when
cleaning, shooting or handling a firearm.

Always keep the barrel pointed in a safe direction.

Presley's class was basically a ''good review'' for
longtime gun enthusiasts like 72-year-old Loyd
Doering.

''When I was a child, my older brother found my
father's 380-automatic underneath the
handkerchiefs and put a round through the ceiling,''
Doering told his classmates. ''Luckily, no one was
hurt.''

His father, he said, always taught gun safety habits.

''He taught us what not to do and we weren't
supposed to have his gun that day, but you know
kids,'' he said. That's one of the reasons he has
some type of locking device on all of his firearms. He
has grandchildren.

The Project HomeSafe lock is a cable-style device
that will work on just about any firearm. Presley
demonstrated how to use the device on various
weapons.

The lock consists of a vinyl-coated steel cable with
one end permanently secured to a key padlock.
When properly installed, the lock prevents closing
the firearm's action. The Police Department's goal is
to get one of the devices on every firearm in
Huntsville, Presley said, to help prevent accidental
shootings - especially of children.

Project HomeSafe is a nationwide program of the
National Shooting Sports Foundation to help ensure
safe, responsible firearm ownership and storage.
The group provides the free locking devices for the
program.

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