CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Right now in South Carolina there are more than 69,000 concealed weapons permit holders. Since violence can happen anytime, anywhere, Sgt. Tommy Judy says you should always be prepared.
"The best preparation is mental preparation but taking it a step further is having some type of weapon, and guns are the most efficient way to protect yourself," Judy said.
In South Carolina, any eligible citizen can get a handgun, and keep it in their home or secured in their car, but to carry it -- in any other situation -- they have to get a Concealed Weapons Permit.
"There is a tremendous difference in owning a weapon and knowing how to use it," Judy said.
The Judys have a Concealed Weapons Permit training class, called BELT, which entails 8 hours of classroom instruction, a SLED background check, fingerprinting, and detailed information about legal ramifications and responsibilities. Judy says knee-jerk reactions made by the uninformed can be a huge mistake and ignorance for the law is no excuse.
[Check out the BELT training classes.]
"While you may successfully defend yourself physically, you may not defend yourself financially on the civil side of the house," Judy said.
The training also includes cardinal rules for all gun owners. "Treat all firearms like they're loaded, at all times; never point it at anything you're not willing to destroy; be aware of the background of what you're shooting; and never have your finger on the trigger unless you're ready to fire," Judy said.
And there is ample time on the shooting range.
While Judy says that it is important to learn to shoot static or in a stationary position to become comfortable with your firearm, its also important to learn how to use the gun while you're moving. Chances are, if you're in a situation where you're being threatened, you and your aggressor won't be standing still.
A gun can be the ultimate equalizer giving a small woman equal footing with a 250 lb aggressor, but only if they use it right.
The Judys say over the last year, the number of female applicants for BELT has doubled.