Gun violence against innocent and unarmed victims has seemingly escalated in the past few years. You may notice that these vile and evil men do not seek victims who may be in a position to defend themselves. Mentally ill or not, they target people who have no chance at legitimate self-defense. There also seems to be a great deal of controversy surrounding gun violence. Sadly, some of this is for political gain by elected officials or by those advancing ideological beliefs. However, the truth, which is painful to hear at times, is that people generally do not target would be victims if the shooter believes that his target is armed with a firearm. I don’t make this assertion from an academic perspective. I see proof of this in real life. The only notable exceptions I have seen are (1) the gang related violence on our streets and (2) suicide shootings. In the gang scenario, almost everyone is armed. However, the vast majority of gang members are also illegally armed. Suicide shootings are thankfully very rare. In almost every other case, you will see an aggressor use a firearm toward a victim who is either unarmed or the aggressor believes is unarmed. Humans, even gun violence criminals, have a natural instinct to survive. Shooting at a person who is armed is not the best way toward self-preservation. I offer the following two examples when the evidence shows that the shooter is guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Burglaries – The vast majority of burglaries occur at a residence or building when the owner is not present. The last thing a burglar will do is to intrude into a home when a lawful gun owner and his or her family is present. Burglars do not want to get shot. Armed Robberies – With the exception of “drug deals gone bad” when everyone involved, including the victim, is engaged in some sort of criminal activity, most armed robberies are committed at gas stations, liquor stores, and in situations when a defendant robs a person who he knows is not armed. While some gas station employees are armed, the majority are not. Criminals know this. So, how can we protect our families and make our community safer? We can do this by becoming legal and responsible gun owners. If you are already a legal gun owner, make sure that you are familiar with the gun laws and self-defense laws in Georgia. You do not want run afoul of the law. Additionally, please make sure that your firearms are safely kept in your home or other legal location where children cannot possibly get access to them. Target practice is another important aspect to responsible gun ownership. The west Georgia area is fortunate to have some good gun ranges. For example, “The Shot Spot” in Carrollton is a great place to get in some quality time practicing with your firearm. For those folks who can legally purchase a firearm, but have not done so, this may be a good idea to consider. Our community has a number of businesses who sell quality guns, rifles, and other firearms. Most current and future gun owners are also eligible for a Weapons Carry License. You can apply for a license at your local Probate Court. Make sure that you are familiar with Georgia’s Weapons Carry Law before even considering getting a license. Remember that practice, safety, and responsibility are essential for the new and current gun owner. You may want to check out The National Rifle Association, The United States Concealed Carry Association, and GeorgiaCarry.org for more information on responsible gun ownership. While Georgia is a “gun friendly” state, I hope to see an increase in the number of legal gun owners. Legal gun owners make our communities a safer place for all of us.