Tuesday, January 24 2012 4:18 PM EST2012-01-24 21:18:42 GMT
Children and guns is a combination that can have tragic results. Over the weekend, a toddler in Gainesville died while playing with a gun, and an 11-year old in Waycross died in a pellet gun accident.More >>
ALBANY, GA (WALB) - They're used by the innocent for protection and sport. But guns have become a currency of criminals. Bought, traded or stolen, bad guys will find a way to get their hands on the cold metal.
Guns are a valuable tool on the street for getting them what they want, but can also get you killed. That's why more and more, citizens are arming themselves for protection.
Dihanna McCullock grew up around guns and knew she didn't want them in her home. "I was not for guns," she said. "I didn't like 'em. Didn't want them in the house. Didn't want to know anything about 'em."
Then, two years ago, the New York native moved to Albany. "We got here and I said, 'I want a gun.'"
Not only did McCullock get a gun. She and her husband John established an arsenal of weapons for the entire family.
"I have a Walter G-22 rifle," John said. "My son has the Walter P-22. We all have that. We have three of those. He's got the Judge 45 Long Colt, Diane has the three inch short barrel judge."
And that's just part of their collection that they regularly try out. "The family that shoots together, stays together."
As religious as church attendance, the McCullock family comes to the Chickasawhatchee gun range every Sunday afternoon. It's training that has come in handy.
In January, Dihanna was confronted by a gunman and a man armed with a knife while walking into her office at Paradise Village. "I said, 'there's no choice.' I'm going to die, but I'm going down fighting."
She pulled the gun off her hip, and started shooting. "If I did not have that gun that day, I would have died, plain and simple."
"He got hit, he ran out the door. Chances are he's not coming back and if he does, I know the right thing to do."
The McCullock's daughter, Vanessa, is haunted by what could have happened to her mother. "One day I could be like, 'Hi mom' and the next day she may not be there."
Which is why she now takes aim at targets, so that if she or someone she loves is the target of a crime, she'll be ready. "I should just be able to defend myself if I had to."
Mike Dilbeck is a Range Safety Officer at Chickasawhatchee. He says he's seeing more people with little to no experience with guns, arm themselves for protection. "The come in and say I'm buying this for self defense, can you show me how to use it?"
He says a gun without control is no protection at all. "When you're faced with the situation she was faced with is how you're going to handle it, how your head's gonna stay. The gun don't make the difference, this (points to head) makes the difference."
Taz Ogletree remains poised and calm when he fires off his M-4 Carbine, the standard rifle of U.S. armed forces.
He's not using this canon as a gun for protection, but for sport. "It's an enjoyable past time. I come out here, I enjoy it. Stress relief. It's actually quite relaxing."
And even though he shoots for fun, he believes everyone should have the right to carry. "Everyone should have the right to defend themselves."
A right the McCullocks arm themselves with. "We fight. That's what we do."
From the parents, to the children. "You got to stay sharp and protect yourself and your loved ones. You got to do what it takes," said Sean.
Locked and loaded, and prepared for the next time the bad guys come their way. "we're not afraid of you. Come with what you got, we're ready. We're not afraid, we're not."
"They're not running away. They'll be lucky if they walk away on this one." Away from a battle this family is ready to fight.
Police say, if possible, your first line of defense against criminals should be law enforcement, but if you do plan to buy and carry a gun for self protection, it's critical you regularly practice shooting it and always keep guns locked up and out of the reach of children.
The number of gun permits applied for in South Georgia has increased dramatically in the past five years.
Gun Permit Applications
* Permit cost increased to $75.00, slowing applications.
Copyright 2011 WALB. All rights reserved. Feedback