The Courier Herald Online After several recent attacks on women, sheriff announces plans to offer firearm training class 08/16/07 By STEPHANIE MILLER Women who feel safer carrying a firearm will have the opportunity to be trained in firearms use by the Laurens County Sheriffâ€™s Department. Laurens Sheriff Bill Harrell announced today that on a soon-to-be announced date firearms instructors with the sheriffâ€™s department will hold a training class to teach firearms safety and instruction. â€œIâ€™ve been wanting to do this for quite a while but weâ€™re seeing so much stuff going on now, I just want to make sure that folks are safe in their home. If they do get confronted by somebody they can protect themselves and keep themselves from getting seriously hurt,â€ said Harrell this morning. He said a date will likely be scheduled for a Saturday morning in the next two weeks, which will be announced by The Courier Herald as soon as the date is set. More than one class may be held depending on the number of women who are interested in the training. Women who are interested in the class can call the Sheriffâ€™s Department to be placed on a list at 272-1522. Harrell said the only thing the women will be required to supply is their weapon and ammunition, at least 100 rounds of ammunition for each woman. The sheriff said he has only one concern about teaching residents to carry firearms. â€œI donâ€™t want to get out there and have a vigilante thing. I just want to have folks to be able to look after themselves,â€ he said. He said in addition to the firearms training, he hopes to have someone from District Attorney Craig Fraserâ€™s office to talk to the women about their safety and the rights they have to protect themselves. In the past month, several women have been attacked. One women had her purse snatched from her while standing in line at a local discount store. One woman was attacked while coming out of a local shopping center. Another woman was raped and brutalized while stranded from a flat tire in the county. Most recently, a woman was attacked while outside her home on Bellevue Avenue Wednesday night by purse snatchers who threw her down onto the driveway and attempted to drag her around her yard. In addition to taking the firearms classes, there are many ways in which women can protect themselves. Sgt. Sid Harrison of the sheriffâ€™s department said the class is not going to just be about firearms usage. It will also include ways women can prevent anyone from even wanting to bother them simply by their stance and attitude. â€œWeâ€™re gonna go over the legal matter,â€ said Harrison, adding in addition to the district attorney he hopes to have Laurens Probate Judge Helen Harper speak and other professionals teach women how to avoid getting into the position to need a weapon. Harrison the Sheriffâ€™s Response Team and several patrol deputies will be on hand to give the class participants one-on-one firearms instruction. But he wants women to learn the first stage of self-protection too. â€œWeâ€™ll go over environmental concerns as far as trusting your gut feelings,â€ he said. â€œSome of the indicators we see as police officers (on how to know) when people are acting suspicious.â€ He said that includes pulling into the home driveway and any other location, as well as how to make the home surroundings safer, and learning to always scan the surroundings to look for suspicious or threatening activity. â€œThings we can do to forestall shooting altogether, just to start the God-given instincts that weâ€™ve lost,â€ said Harrison. â€œ Weâ€™ve got ... true evil in this world. This isnâ€™t Mayberry anymore. Everybodyâ€™s got to be cautious and responsible for themselves because the police canâ€™t be everywhere.â€ He said women need to realize that even when shopping, someone is always looking over the shoulder ... even to looking at the address on the check, watching what kind of vehicle they drive and what they have in that vehicle. He said fences, gates and other things can make a home safer. â€œDo you have a pair of big boots and a big dog dish out even if you donâ€™t have a male in the house and a big dog?,â€ he said, adding that one simple thing can make a would-be attacker think twice before targeting a house. And he said neighbors are an important deterrent. Harrison said people are so busy today they rarely see their neighbors or even know who they are. â€œYour neighbor needs to know your schedule and the people who are supposed to be there. Weâ€™re at the point .. where youâ€™ve got to watch out for each other. Weâ€™re really going to encourage that in the classroom.â€ But he said just being observant can help prevent many attacks. â€œYouâ€™ve got to be so observant. If youâ€™re observant a lot of times youâ€l never need protection,â€ said Harrison, adding â€œtaking responsibility and disciplining yourselves to be on alertâ€ is very important.