In the wake of a brutal attempted rape at a community park on Oct. 30, the sheriff of Spartanburg County, SC, had some forthright advice for women as he spoke at a news conference the morning following the incident.
"Ladies, walk in groups. Get a concealed weapons permit," said Sheriff Chuck Wright. "I don't want you to go for the Mace—I want you to go for the concealed weapons permit."
The sheriff's Oct. 31 news conference was officially called to announce the arrest of Walter Monroe Lance, 46. Lance has been charged with kidnapping, first-degree criminal sexual conduct and grand larceny in connection with the attack on a woman walking her dog at Milliken Park in Spartanburg. The suspect is being held without bond.
Sheriff Wright said Lance's criminal career dates back to 1983 and includes convictions for disorderly conduct, domestic violence, assault and battery with intent to kill and resisting arrest.
During the news conference, Wright displayed a fanny pack that women could use to carry a concealed handgun while jogging or walking.
Wright said he recommended a .45-caliber handgun for personal defense, but noted "Gun control to me is when you can get your barrel back on the target quick."
A South Carolina concealed-carry permit requires applicants to complete an eight-hour course that includes detailed classroom instruction on state gun laws, use of deadly force, handgun safety and proper handgun storage, in addition to firing a handgun on a range in the presence of the instructor.
Since the news of the Oct. 30 incident and Sheriff Wright's subsequent comments, local firearms instructors say they received a spike in requests from women to attend concealed carry and personal defense classes.
David Blanton, owner of Top Gun Shooting in Boiling Springs, SC, told the Spartanburg Herald Journal in the 24 hours following Sheriff Wright's remarks, he received 23 calls inquiring about his firearms course and concealed-carry permits from women and husbands concerned about their wives. Blanton, a retired Spartanburg County sheriff's deputy, said he normally receives about five calls a day regarding his classes