Gun Registration at All-Time High in Twp.
If January is any indication, Washington Township could see record year of gun registrations in 2013.
Gun permits in Washington Township are on pace already this year to shatter any single year in the past, following a 12-month period that already saw the highest number of registered guns in the municipality.
Through Feb. 5, 2013, when Patch obtained seven years’ worth of gun permit records in Washington Township, 53 firearms permits had been approved, with another 96 pending.
That total puts the township far ahead of the 2012 pace, when 301 gun permits were approved, nearly double the year prior. Just two were rejected in 2012–both because of denied identification cards.
“I think it has a lot to do with talk of gun control laws,” Washington Township Mayor Ken Short said. “People are probably thinking ‘let me get in before the laws change.' "
Short, who spoke out against the ability to obtain assault rifles after the Newtown, Connecticut shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children, said the country’s path may be of concern to many residents.
“Residents are concerned about the country and where it may be going,” Short said. “There seems to be an uncertainty for some people. [Residents] are finding it their personal responsibility, like they need to defend their own turf.”
Crime rates in Washington Township, according to the Uniform Crime Report database, from 2006 to 2011 (the most recent year tallied) wavered over the time frame as well.
|Year||Permit Approvals||Permit Denials||Total Crimes|
|2013*||53 (96 pending)||0||N/A|
* Records through Feb. 5.
“I have not seen any real correlations between the number of issued guns and the different crimes we see,” said Washington Township Police Chief Michael Bailey, whose theory on the increase coincided with Short’s. “I think the number jumps every time we have a presidential election or they talk about gun reform.”
Hunters aren’t the only residents seeking permits either, Bailey said, mentioning more women and elderly people are filing applications than he’s seen in the past.
While gun crimes in Washington Township are slim to none, the rate at which permits are being approved does create a cause for concern.
“The number of permits alarm me,” Bailey said, “because you don’t know if these people have any gun safety or gun handling ability. As a police officer you are trained to handle a gun, secure a gun properly, and fire the gun accurately, and are tested twice a year. The average person might attend a safety course or might not, and if they do they might do it once in their lifetime.”