Albany shootout triggers gun law questions

Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards says Georgia gun laws are an attempt to strike a balance between public safety and the constitutional right to bear arms.

"You are allowed under Georgia law to have a firearm in your home, your vehicle, or your place of business without the need for a license," said Edwards.

Georgia law makes no distinction between carrying a firearm that is concealed and one that is hidden â" both are legal if you have a gun permit.

Edwards says the old adage about shooting someone on your front lawn and then dragging the body inside is outdated and that the right to self-defense is much broader.

"Georgia law allows anyone to use deadly force if they are presented with a forcible felony against themselves or a third person," said Edwards.

Jason Sheffield of Dawson Road Pawn Shop says the fear of those forcible felonies drives a healthy portion of his business.

"When you see a local business get robbed or you see a home invasion on the news, it just naturally puts in people's mind, 'hey, I need to start looking for a gun,'" said Sheffield.

Most customers shopping for a firearm are looking for small handguns, like a Glock, that can be easily carried. And if your background check comes back clean, you can be in and out the door with your new gun in about ten minutes.

"A lot of people get them out of necessity," said Sheffield. "When it comes to having your own business or just protecting yourself over the things that are going on, sort of a shaky economy right now and a lot of people are really desperate to get some money and they'll do whatever it takes."

Edwards, however, cautions that using deadly force should be a last resort and calling the police should be the first.

"It's always best to let the professionals do their job," said Edwards. "They're dedicated. They're trained."

The Albany Police Department offers free firearms training to anyone who wants to learn more about gun laws and gun safety.