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Real estate agents taking up arms in America

Video: Spotlight on America: Real estate agents taking up arms in America | Sinclair Broadcast Group)

WASHINGTON (SBG) -- Realtors often go into houses they don’t know, with people they’ve just met. Safety efforts have become a real focus, but the potential for violence has some of them taking up arms.

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Scott Smith spends a lot of time at the range, making sure if he has to use his gun, he's fully trained and ready.

"If you’re going to carry a firearm, you’re going to need to be proficient with it,” he said.

But Smith doesn't just shoot for sport. He legally carries a concealed gun for his job as a realtor.

"People think realtors have a lot of money, that they are rolling in the dough, so people automatically think - 'there’s an easy target.'"

A 2018 report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed 33 percent of those surveyed experienced a situation that made them fear for their safety. Five percent reported they'd been the victim of a crime at work.

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"We many times meet people in places that could put ourselves in peril,” said John Smaby, President of the National Association of Realtors.

He says it's a priority for the organization, which in recent years has stepped up training and safety education for agents.

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"I think safety should be top of mind every day, for every realtor,” he said.

Many realtors, like Smith, are arming themselves. According to the latest NAR survey, 1 in 6 realtors carries a gun.

High profile cases can be a motivator- such as the murder of a Maryland man working alone at a model home in December, a realtor gunned down last month in Utah while evicting a tenant, and the chilling abduction and killing of Arkansas agent Beverly Carter.

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"Your brain just can’t process the fact that your loved one was kidnapped, duct taped and put in the trunk of a car and later murdered,” Beverly's son, Carl Carter Jr., said.

Beverly was missing for five days after showing a home to a couple that deliberately targeted the 50-year-old and deceived her. A foundation started by her son now works to train realtors on best safety practices to prevent tragedies like Beverly's case. Simply carrying a gun, Carl Carter Jr. says, isn't enough.

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"A gun would not have saved my mother’s life that day,” he said. “There were a number of business decisions along the way that led her to that vacant room on the second story of a home where she turned from taking a photograph and she was met with a taser in her side. There was no time to turn and grab a gun.”

But for realtors who want the option to concealed carry, it's not as easy as just picking one up. The National Rifle Association says eight states, mostly along the coasts, can put severe limits and restrictions on those who want to legally carry.

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"It will be restricted as to while you’re doing business as a realtor, carrying cash deposits,” said Scott Smith.

Smith says arming yourself isn't for every realtor. For him, it's a personal choice. One, he hopes, he never has to put into action.

For more on Beverly Carter’s case and the efforts made to increase realtor safety in the wake of her death, check out Circa.com.

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