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Crime driving increased interest in gun training in Red Deer area

More women learning how to shoot

More central Albertans — including women — who are worried about crime want to learn how to pull the trigger to protect themselves, says the president of a Red Deer-area indoor shooting range.

The President and CEO of Red Deer Shooting Centre in McKenzie Industrial Business Park said his business does not advocate that people respond to crime by pulling out a gun, but he has received lots of calls lately from people wanting to learn to use guns for self-defence.

“I started this business not for self-defence. I started this business for the sport shooters, hobby guys and the casual hunters. Now, we’re seeing it evolve,” he said.

ALSO READ: Red Deer named Canada’s 10th most dangerous place

He said interest grew after an alleged property invasion at an Eckville-area residence by two women armed with guns in October.

“There’s violence everywhere. It’s unfortunate,” he said.

He said about 50 per cent of the shooting centre’s clientele are women.

“It’s not just guys calling. It’s a lot of women, too. Single moms calling me asking me about firearms training, how to get a firearms licence. Husbands calling for their wives to get them involved.

“I’m just happy that we can provide the training locally that people are wanting. It’s good for my industry, obviously, but it’s good for people interested in getting the education they want,” he said.

Jamie Osmond, general manager at Wolverine Guns & Tackle, said more guns aren’t being purchased at his store in reaction to crime, but the problem is on the public’s mind, he said.

“It is a discussion. There’s no doubt about it. People are talking about different ways they want to protect themselves on a day-to-day basis, that’s for sure,” Osmond said.

“People don’t feel safe anymore. They truly do not.”

Crime is an issue across the country, not just in central Alberta, Osmond said.

Jason Smith, of Eckville, who lives near where the mother was allegedly held at gunpoint in October, said he would pick up his gun if someone was attacking his family.

“Whether I would protect myself with a firearm, that’s a pretty simple question for me, if need be,” said Smith, who is a hunter.

“The problem is most of these people are high on drugs and they don’t think rationally.”

He said it took a dog and three large police officers to subdue a thief high on drugs who stole a vehicle from his parents.

“How is a normal, average human being suppose to deal with that?”

He said the average response time for police in his area is about 20 minutes, so residents are always on the lookout for suspicious vehicles.

“We spend more time watching out for our neighbours than we do working anymore, it seems.”

Thieves are known to shoot or poison homeowners’ dogs, he said.

“They really stop at nothing.”

About 16 months ago, he said there was a break-in on his property and $20,000 worth of equipment was stolen.

“I was home sleeping in my bed, my children in their beds, when those people broke into my shop. They were 150 feet from me,” said Smith, who didn’t hear the thieves that windy night.

“People are scared,” said the Eckville man.

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