More women joining ranks of gun owners
Kelsey Carter is a mother of two, whose firefighter husband is often away from home.
"My desire to have a weapon is to protect life," Carter said.
It's the same desire for Angela Hill Jacobson, a mother of three. Both are part of the growing number of gun owners who are women.
"I appreciate that it's a right that we have," said Jacobson.
"Our last option is to use them for lethal purposes," said Lt. Dale True, the Firearms Training Section Supervisor of IMPD.
Eyewitness News was invited by IMPD to go through the same simulation training as officers on the street.
"There is an attached liability with you as a citizen bringing that firearm out," Sgt. Nate Barlow, the Survival Tactics Section Supervisor at IMPD.
We used a Glock Model 22 .40 caliber pistol filled with air to target shoot. It was Jacobson's first time holding a gun and the same for Eyewitness News Anchor Andrea Morehead. It's been over 15 years since Carter, a former Marine, has used a firearm.
"Nervous. I wasn't anticipating my hand shaking as much as it did," Carter said.
Then it was time to go through the academy's mandatory firearms training simulator, also known as "FATS."
"By the time they get to FATS, they have gone through 99 percent of all of our other requirement training," says Lt. True.
Accuracy for police is a must. But what would you do, as a lawful citizen, who happens to have a gun, if faced with a similar pressure-filled situation?
The simulator's first scenario is two guys fighting outside of a bar.
"If you think you need to shoot, you may," Lt. True said.
"He's coming at you with a knife. That's a knife!" Sgt. Barlow said.
Carter shoots at the screen.
"Did you feel threatened?" asked Lt. True.
"Yes," Carter replied.
"If people are going to be armed and they're going to use this for their own self-protection, then the first question that has to be answered by them mentally, physically, emotionally, and in some cases, spiritually, is 'Can I take the life of another individual?'," Lt. True said. "And if you haven't made that decision then it is not proper to be armed."
The second scenario shows a man holding a woman at gunpoint in a warehouse.
"What do you see?" asks Sgt. Barlow.
"Honestly, I'm calling 911 and I'm getting the heck out of Dodge," Carter said.
"Alright, so you're gone. That's fine. You're no longer inside. What do you think ma'am?" Lt. True said.
"Boom," says Morehead
"If you decided, though, that this is a friend of mine, this is an employee of mine and I'm going to move forward, at one point are you allowed to use force as civilian in this type of scenario?" Sgt. Barlow said.
"I literally was, like, 'Shoot him.' I see him with a gun. To me, he's not threatening me personally, but he's threatening my friend, and I'm thinking, 'Okay'," explained Morehead.
"Ms. Morehead, I will take you as back-up any day of the week. Anybody who is willing to take and put themselves in that position to save another human life, I love that spirit. But there are other things you want to consider as well," said Sgt. Barlow.
"What's the distance of the hostage, what's the ability of the hostage to be able to survive, things like that," Lt. True said.
"That means that - (snaps) - that quick, he can pull that trigger and kill her, or - (snaps) - that quick he can turn and kill you," Sgt. Barlow said.
"Am I right? Would I be justified in doing so?" Morehead asked.
"I think so. Not your grand jury. I'm your police officer that's gonna come in afterward, look at the scene, look at what's going on and I'm gonna turn around and write you up as a hero, saying, 'Hey, this civilian put themselves in this position. Is that what we want for civilians?'," Sgt. Barlow said. "No. We want civilians to keep themselves safe, call us, let us come in. It may cost me the life of one of my officers and that will be a tragic day. But our police officers take an oath to come out and protect the citizens."
The students were then presented with a third scenario.
"You're just pulling into a parking space," Sgt. Barlow said.
"The man who's in the wheelchair is obviously not going to be able to defend himself," said Morehead.
"What would you be doing right now, as a citizen?" asked Sgt. Barlow.
"I would be calling 911," Jacobson said.
"Excellent," said Sgt. Barlow. "But as soon as it happens and that blood pressure spikes very quickly and that adrenaline starts to jump, where were we aiming? We weren't even paying attention. You weren't looking down the sights. You just started pulling."
The students missed. With bullets flying everywhere.
"What you did is, you jerked. And when you did that, this is what happened to your gun," Lt. True said.
The training continues at the range at Beech Grove Firearms. The first real shooting is with a .22.
"Good job. You hit right in the nine," the NRA trainer tells Jacobson. "Annie Oakley reincarnated. See, this is why we start with the .22. They're forgiving and easy to shoot."
"That's awesome. I think the fear factor is gone. Now it's to gain more knowledge and to become proficient," Jacobson said.
Carter shot next.
"Good job. Right by the X ring. That's awesome. You got three shots there in one hole, basically," said the trainer.
"To have that confidence and walk out of here with your chest a little higher and your shoulders a little straighter," Carter said.
Finally, it was Morehead's turn to shoot.
"Straight to the rear. You drilled the nine. Center punched the nine," the trainer said.
But will you be accurate when it counts?
"These are the decisions that citizens must make and understand," Sgt. Barlow said.
Of the 92 counties across the state, more women in Marion County - over 12,000 - have applied for gun permits. (See the 2013 quarterly gun ownership statistics)
Both Jacobson and Carter say after more training, they'll likely purchase a gun for protection.
A growing number of women are taking aim saying they want to be ready in case they need to protect themselves and their families. Eyewitness News Anchor Andrea Morehead went along with two local women taking their first gun training, to find out how they would react, in real life, potentially deadly situations.