Women business leaders hear safety tips from police, firearms instructor

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Liberty Hill businesswomen heard tips from local police and a gun safety instructor this week on how to protect themselves, their businesses and residences.

Liberty Hill Police Chief Randy Williams and Cpl. James Savage were joined Tuesday by Judith Baker, an expert firearms instructor and owner of A Texas Girl’s Guns, at the Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business luncheon.

Savage said businesses often set themselves up to be victims of burglary by leaving cash behind after hours. He said video cameras and alarm systems are effective tools to discourage burglars.

Williams added that a local concession stand was recently the victim of a burglary. About $1,500 was taken from the cash register, he said. Then, thieves went to every concession stand in Liberty Hill hoping to reap the same results. And two weeks later, they struck again “hoping to hit another jackpot.”

Williams encouraged Chamber members and their guests to be aware of their surroundings at their businesses, in parking lots, public places and in their own neighborhoods.

“They prefer to prey on the weak, so be the strongest person they see and let them look for someone else,” he said.

Baker said that everyone who owns a weapon should be properly trained. She said the Concealed Handgun License (CHL) class doesn’t go far enough to educate gun owners on how to use the weapon. She added that recent legislation has cut the hours for the class from 12 to six, further reducing the amount of information and training that gun owners receive.

Baker and the police are concerned about the anticipated passage of legislation this month, which will allow licensed gun owners to openly carry their weapons in public.

“It’s about training to retain the weapon,” Williams said. “Because if they take it away from you, they’re going to kill you with it.”

Baker said those who openly carry will be at greater risk than those who carry concealed. While some gun owners may see it as a deterrent, it instead invites criminals to try to take it. And those who simply have a CHL are likely not trained in how to retain their weapon.

“There are too many accidents, and too many (gun owners) with a false sense of security,” she said. “They have a mindset that having that license means no one is going to mess with them.”

Williams said business owners should not hesitate to call police when they feel uncomfortable about a customer or feel at risk.

He said business owners should also train employees what to do in situations where they feel threatened. In every case, police should be called immediately.

“Even if you’re not sure whether it is real or not, we would much prefer to arrive before it becomes something,” he said.

Williams said if the bill is signed by the Governor allowing gun owners to openly display their weapons in public, it will become even more important that businesses develop policies for their employees and offer some training as to how to handle those customers.

For those businesses that prohibit openly carrying guns into their establishments, employees will need to be trained as to how to react when someone refuses to comply.

“You should assess every customer as they enter,” he said.

Baker said that while many are prompted by fear to purchase a gun, it’s a decision that should be made seriously with much thought and consideration. At her business, she discourages buyers from a purchase unless they are trained in firearm use and safety. She urged the businesswomen who might be considering a gun purchase to first take a pistol training course.

“If you’re not prepared to use it, there’s no need to carry,” Baker said.

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