If you’re going to carry a firearm, get training.

That’s the message from Union Police Chief Norman Brune, who is urging those who want to carry — concealed or not — to not only get training, but to know and understand the laws surrounding the discharge of firearms.

“I am a proponent of the Second Amendment. I believe that good citizens should be able to carry a firearm,” he said. “However, I believe that there should be some training associated with that.”

The message stems from an incident last week in which a citizen, who served as a witness for police, fired two shots from a pistol into the air to get a fleeing thief to stop running from Midwest Petroleum.

The original suspect had allegedly stolen two cans of beer from the shop. When he was apprehended, he notified police that someone was shooting.

The 21-year-old St. Clair man admitted to firing shots in the air.

Charges are being sought against both men, the first subject for stealing and the second for unlawful use of a weapon.

“The witness was trying to be a Good Samaritan, a good citizen, and help the store employee,” Brune said. “But his actions were inappropriate for the circumstances.”

If the suspect in the shoplifiting would have been shot by the witness or if the witness had shot toward the victim, there would be serious charges being pressed, Brune said.

“Because he actually had no justification in the use of the firearm,” Brune said.

The only appropriate time to shoot at someone is in the defense of a person’s life or in defense of serious physical injury. It must be a life-threatening event.

“That’s it. That’s the use of deadly force,” he said. “This is called self-defense, which can be defending yourself or defending another.

“In all reality, training should be required for anyone to carry a firearm for reasons just like this, so you know when you can legally use that firearm.”

There are numerous other ways the situation could have gotten worse, Brune noted, including if the suspect had been hit by the shot, or if the shot fired into the air had hit something else inadvertently.

The last thing police want, Brune said, is a good citizen getting in trouble because of a lack of understanding when they can legally use lethal force.

“If they are going to carry a firearm, they need to understand that there are laws governing the legal use of that firearm and that there are laws governing self-defense and the defense of others. And if you are not familiar with those laws, you should not be carrying a firearm,” he added.

There is no training offered for open carry, Brune said, but training for concealed carry would provide participants with an understanding of the laws surrounding firearms.