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Firearms expert discusses when it is legal to use a weapon

Utah Shooting Sports Council Chairman Clark Aposhian demonstrates how a bump stock works when attached to a semiautomatic rifle at the Gun Vault store and shooting range Oct. 4, 2017, in South Jordan. (Photo: Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY —  You find yourself in a situation that quickly became dangerous. You are armed, but are you legally justified in firing your weapon? Chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council talks to KSL NewsRadio about when you can discharge your weapon and firearms training simulators.

In 2019, George Bekmezian and his daughter were robbed at gunpoint by Buk Buk, who is accused of shooting and killing University of Utah football player Aaron Lowe. Bekmezian fired on but missed Buk and his accomplice fleeing the scene of the robbery.

But was Bekmezian —  a concealed carry permit holder — legally allowed to fire his weapon in that situation?

Clark Aposhian, a Utah gun lobbyist, joins Debbie Dujanovic and Dave Noriega to discuss when and where it is legal to open fire.

To fire or not to fire a weapon?

Bekmezian and his daughter were exposed to imminent threat of death by Buk, who held a gun to the father’s head, and his accomplice, who threatened him with a knife.

“All they [the armed robbers] would have had to do is turn around, or even stop, or turn around and point their gun — that he knew they had — and fire and kill them. . . .  I’m gonna say that George was in his right mind thinking that they were still a viable threat,” Aposhian said.

Police officers are trained for handling situations where a suspect is armed. Bekmezian is a former Marine, so he likely had weapons training. How can an average citizen train for a hostile encounter with a gunman? Dave asked.

“Yeah, it’s what we call it clinical stress inoculation. You can’t really do it shooting paper targets at the range,” Aposhian said.

He said the best preparation or training is to have experienced a real-life situation against armed assailants or “been there, done that.”Absent that, he said training simulators at gun ranges are the next best substitute.

“It’s not as good as the real thing, but it’s all a heck of a lot safer,” Aposhian said. 

He said the training simulators don’t involve actual firearms but facsimiles or simulated weapons, which fire a projectile and recoil. He added the training tests speed, accuracy and decision-making.

“I’ve seen people come out of there, their hands — and they’re seasoned shooters — and their hands are shaking because of how immersed they got into it.”

Aposhian said the more a person trains, the more they are inoculated from the stress of  dangerous life-or-death situations involving weapons.

“[After training] your brain can go back to having ‘been there and done that,’ so that you can act rather than — oftentimes when people don’t have something to fall back on they freeze.”

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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