Monday, September 6, 2010

Home Robberies, Homeowner Gun Use Increases

By Jarrel Wade/Tulsa World ~ Home robberies are on the rise in Tulsa, police say, and a higher number of robberies have ended with gunfire as homeowners and robbers alike have been shot.

Whichever party introduces the weapon, gun safety experts say the risk greatly elevates. Making the right decisions can help a homeowner get out of the situation safely.

For a gun owner, when someone is breaking into the house the most important thing is to know how to handle a firearm and how to hold on to it, said Sgt. Dave Walker, Tulsa Police Department robbery division supervisor.

"If you're going to point it and wave it around, someone is going to take it away from you," he said.

Walker pointed to an Aug. 2 home invasion when two people talked their way into an elderly woman's home.

The woman was able to get her gun while the two people were distracted, but the man just took the gun from her hand and put it to her head, police said.

"You should ... never bring a gun out unless you are willing to use it," Walker said.

Tulsa Police, using the COMSTAT data collection program that analyzes crime in Tulsa, said home robberies are up 29 percent from this same time last year.

Tulsa home robberies involving a gun are up 20 percent from 87 last year to 104 this year, data shows.

In fact, all armed home robberies are up with the exception of knife robberies, which have gone down by one incident, according to data.

Strong-arm robbery in a residence, the most common robberies, has gone up 29 percent from this time last year. Strong-arm robbery doesn't as often involve a death, but severe injury is possible.

Marshall Luton, the lead instructor and operations manager at The Defensive Shooting Academy Tulsa, said guns should be kept safely inside the home but close at hand so someone has a chance to protect themselves if a home invasion occurs.

"The gun has to be accessible to be of any use at all," Luton said. He said, because of his training, he would always prefer to have a gun in his hand in a robbery situation.

On the other hand, Walker said a person with a gun should seriously consider his or her training and ability to use it.

"If you pull it, use it," Walker said. "If you're not willing to kill somebody, don't have the silly thing in your hand."
Photo courtesy the Tulsa World.

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