FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 65 percent of crimes involve a gun in South Carolina and that has some people in the Pee Dee putting down the pepper spray and picking up a gun for self defense.
"It's not about warning shots, when you pull a gun it needs to be with the intent to shoot the attacker," said Shawn Mizell, instructor at Oh Shoot in Florence.
Shawn Mizell says there's to many people that become victims in a violent situation because they don't know when or how to fight back.
She says there has been an increase in people taking concealed weapons certifications courses to own a gun for self defense.
"I am getting a concealed weapons permit because I am worried about the holidays coming up and I'm a women and I want to be able to protect myself when I'm shopping and protect my son," said Jasmine Dawkins of Florence.
Dawkins is nervous about using a gun but a simulation program is changing that. For the first time she used the simulation program, used by some police academies and she says it makes her feel more confident about using a gun if the situation permits.
"It did kind of make me aware and think what I had to do in that situation, when I had somebody jump in front of me with a weapon I knew it was okay for me to shoot,"said Dawkins.
"When you get in those situations the question you're asking is when can I shoot or what do I shoot, but the real question is when do I have to shoot," said Shawn Mizell.
While doing the simulation program the participant uses a real gun.
"We use a real glock pistol modified to work with the program, you have to drop the magazine and it has to be racked for it to be live with the system," said Frank Mizell, owner of Oh Shoot.
The program puts you in parking lots, homes and hostage situations that may put your life in danger, making you think about when it's appropriate to shoot.
"Sometimes you'll get in there in the simulation and the guy jumps out the window and there's no risk so you don't need to shoot," said Shawn Mizell.
She says there are other options for self-defense if the person does not want to use a lethal weapon. She teaches safety courses and runs a program called "Refuse to be a Victim".
Her husband says there's no point in getting a gun if you're not going to use it when needed. He says to many people shoot warning shots into the air and not only does that make the situation worse, you can be targeting someone else.
"When shooting a bullet into the air, it must come down," said Frank Mizell.
To learn about places offering concealed weapons certifications courses in your area you can contact your local police department or shooting range.