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APD offering course focused on firearm safety

ALBANY, Ga. -- If people have guns in their home, they should at least know the laws governing gun ownership, gun use and gun safety, and how to shoot, Albany Police Department officials said.

The Albany police plan to offer a free "Basic Firearm Safety Course" at 8 a.m. May 1, a police news release stated. The inaugural course will have room for 15 and applications are being accepted at the Law Enforcement Center, 201 W. Oglethorpe Blvd.

"A lot of citizens have asked us for this course," said Mark Scott, deputy chief. "A lot of people have guns and should learn how to use them safely."

Anyone taking the course will be responsible to bring their own gun and ammunition, said Phyllis Banks, police spokeswoman. The eight-hour class will be open to people 21 and older, she added.

Applicants will have to sign a release authorizing a background check to determine eligibility for the course, Banks said.

The class will cover basic handgun safety, the handling skills needed to use a handgun for self defense and legal issues, Scott said.

"Responsible gun ownership is important. It is important to know what the law and the guidelines are. The district attorney will join the class to cover the legal issues." Scott said. "I'll be here with another instructor for the safety and skills. We'll be using the Turner Field pistol range for shooting."

The course will not drain money from the police department budget, Scott said. His contribution will not raise his pay and the other instructor will use flexible scheduling to work the course.

Speaking from her experience working with the Albany Police Department's Citizen's Police Academy, Banks said she believed that the gun safety course would have a good percentage of women enrolling.

"I've had a lot of women in the academy ask me about gun safety training," Banks said. "We are considering making it part of the academy."