LAWRENCEVILLE -- A hot topic that's become hotter recently was discussed on Thursday night in a calm, step-by-step process by Gwinnett police officers.
Several law enforcement officials attended the gun safety seminar designed to offer education about weapons laws, deadly force laws, weapons safety, types of weapons and ammunition. Officers gave explanations to a crowded auditorium at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, and at the end, Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter offered clarifications about use of deadly force and home invasion scenarios.
"The safety of the community is paramount to the police department," Chief Charles Walters said. "This is one way to ensure that."
Shortly before the event wrapped up, Porter and several of the officers were peppered with questions and hypothetical scenarious about home invasions. Porter said there is never a presumption that you can use deadly force, even if an intruder is in your bedroom.
"We have to determine whether use of force was reasonable under all circumstances, and whether it was necessary to defend yourself or another member of your family or a third person," said Porter, who added that that use of force is likely subject to a criminal investigation. "You must reasonably believe that entry is being made to commit an assault on a person in the home, or to commit a forcible felony."
Cpl. J. Rowell during a presentation said that in a defense of home or habitation that deadly force is reasonable and necessary only if entry is made in a violent or tumultuous manner.
"We can't give you a blanket on this one and say, 'This one is good, this is bad," Rowell said.
Rowell said deadly force must be considered if someone wants to carry a firearm, and it's a big responsibility to think about.
Along with Rowell, Cpl. J.D. Golliher gave explanations about types of weapons and ammunition, along with alternative self-protection weapons such as a Taser or stun gun.
During Rowell's explanation about laws, he listed places where a gun is allowed without a permit, such as a home or place of business, and where guns are prohibited, such as a place of worship, bar, courthouse or government building. He also listed "reciprocal states" that honor Georgia's gun laws, but added, "it's up to you to understand the laws of where you're going."
Interest in gun ownership and use was mentioned along with statistics Rowell listed that said permits issued in Gwinnett County have increased recently. In 2011, there were 5,075 permits issued, while 8,306 were issued last year and 3,689 have been issued as of March 15 this year.
"This is an area that's growing," Rowell said. "We need to make sure we're doing things safely and appropriately and within the law."