Home safety local concern

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson David Cresap, owner of Crosshair Gun Shop in Clovis, said he recommends anyone who purchases a gun attend a safety course.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

There were four incidents reported to Clovis police in August involving residents who confronted suspects on their property.

Three ended peacefully. In the fourth, a 62-year-old man received a non-fatal stab wound.

Personal safety should take precedence over property when considering home protection measures, according to experts.

Curry County Sheriff Matt Murray said property owners should rely on law enforcement officials whenever possible.

“If (a resident thinks) there might be a burglary occurring in their house they should immediately call 911 if (they) can,” he said. “The best witness is an alive witness. Just try to be a witness to what’s going on.”

Clovis Police Capt. Patrick Whitney said choosing to defend oneself is a personal decision. Common sense is the bottom line.

And people need to also consider their own safety.

In September 2004, Whitney said 41-year-old Michael Binder was shot to death when he surprised a burglar in his home on Gidding Street.

Binder’s killer has still not been caught.

The question to ponder is, “How much do you value your life?” Whitney said.

David Cresap, owner of Crosshair Gun Shop, said the purchase of firearms and other safety measures go in spurts. Spikes in purchases often coincide with publicized crimes, he said.

Cresap said when Odis and Doris Newman, a retired Portales couple, were abducted and murdered in 2005, customers swarmed his store, purchasing guns and other items for protection.

Larry Reeves, owner of R&S Gun Shop, said he sees an influx of customers in response to crimes.

“Definitely, I have noticed I’m getting more people as far as there’s a lot of people who never thought they’d ever need a gun that are coming in and buying a gun,” he said.

Reeves said his customers are responding to vandalism, burglary and gang activity they see in the community.

“It’s just pretty rough out there,” he said.

Cresap said anyone considering self- or home-protection measures should talk with experts and research options. Pepper spray, stun guns and batons offer a sense of security without going the lethal route of a firearm, he said.

“A lot of people want something that stops (a suspect) dead in their tracks. There’s other people that just want to scare them, and then there’s others that are just scared for their lives,” he said.

Cresap and Reeves recommend all who purchase guns take classes to learn gun safety and appropriate uses for a firearm.

Clovis resident Lee Stevenson is a gun owner and said he made the choice to get a concealed weapon carry permit because he knew others who were doing it.

“Oh yeah, I got a permit to carry, but I don’t carry,” he said. After taking a class to qualify for a permit, Stevenson said he decided he did not want to carry a firearm, since he learned few situations existed where use is appropriate.

“It will make you think twice about using (a gun).”

There’s also legality questions with using deadly force.

Murray said in order to show a person was justified in the use of force they have to be able to prove they were acting in defense of their life or someone else’s.

“If you come home and the burglars are headed out the back door, are you justified in shooting them and possibly killing them? That’s a decision for the district attorney. All (police) are going to do is conduct an investigation,” Whitney said.

Clovis burglaries
319 — from Jan.-Aug. 2007
549 — in 2006
653 — in 2005
619 — in 2004
570 — in 2003
667 — in 2002

Burglaries in the jurisdiction of the Curry County Sheriff’s Department, year to date. This is the first year the sheriff’s department has kept detailed burglary statistics, though current numbers are about average, Sheriff Matt Murray said.

Tips to prevent burglaries:
Always lock doors and windows.
Keep the exterior of your home well-lit.
Avoid planting bushes and trees around doors and windows.
Talk to your neighbors and discus vacations, schedules and habits so they know if something is wrong.
Let police know if you are going out of town and leave contact numbers. Murray said deputies can conduct extra patrols and pay more attention to properties they know are unattended.
Videotape or photograph the contents of your home and document valuables so in the event of a theft there is documentation of what was stolen.
Source: Curry County Sheriff Matt Murray

Guns as protection
Experts recommend shotguns for home protection because most shotgun ammunition will not penetrate walls, placing neighbors and innocent bystanders at risk from ricocheting ammunition but will stop a suspect with one shot. Also, the sound of a shotgun being cycled is well recognized and may be enough to scare off an intruder.
Downside: Anytime a gun is held there must be a commitment to using it. If the victim is unsure, it may provide a suspect opportunity to take the gun and turn it on the victim.

Pepper spray
Handy to carry and will incapacitate a suspect very quickly, allowing time for a victim to escape and call police.
Downside: The victim can be just as susceptible to the spray in close quarters or windy conditions. Cresap said he warns people to be sure they don’t accidentally expose themselves to the spray. “It is nasty, it will hurt you,” he said.

Stun guns
Provide stopping power and give a victim time to get away and call for help.
Downside: In many cases the victim must make and hold contact with the suspect allowing for a potential struggle. A taser, which shoots probes at varying distances, allows for more distance between the suspect and victim.

Sources: David Cresap, Crosshair Gun Shop, Larry Reeves, R&S Gun Shop and www.aware.org, Arming Women Against Rape and Endangerment.