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Gun Permits in 2013 Nearly Double Record-Breaking Total of 2012

Police chief concerned about user's ability to handle firearms as most permits issued this year in Washington Twp. history.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo

The number of residents registering firearms in Washington Township in 2013 nearly doubled 2012, a year that saw the largest amount in the town’s history.

As of Dec. 11, the day Patch obtained year-to-date figures from the Washington Township Police Department, a total of 497 permits were issued in 2013, with 51 more pending with the potential of being approved on or before Dec. 31.

Four identification cards and six permits were denied in 2013 as well. 

In 2012, 301 permits were issued. This year, the township could see a potential total of 552. Just two years ago, 169 permits were issued – less than a third of what this year could end up with.

Patch reported on the uptick in mid-February 2013, when 53 permits had been issued as of Feb. 4 with another 96 pending. The rate of applications slowed beyond that, but still shattered the total number in previous years.

And while the uptick isn’t of concern to one daily gun-wielding member of the community, it’s the training – or lack thereof – that is.

“Everyone wants to look at gun control and ways to suppress that,” Washington Township Police Department Chief Michael Bailey said. “But what the legislation should do is require some kind of proficiency test. Users should know how to handle a gun, secure the gun and know how to shoot it.”

Bailey said it’s the residents’ right, of course, to own a weapon, but only needing a clean background doesn’t make someone ready or able to use a firearm.

“I would never want to curtail gun ownership, but it needs to be run properly,” he said.

Police officers, who carry a gun with them while on duty in their line of work, are required to pass two proficiency tests each year, Bailey said. The top cop likened the situation to a driving course.

“Provisional drivers pay to take six hours of driving lessons before they can get their license,” Bailey said. “It’s not a lot of time, but at least it’s something. All you need to own and use a gun is a clean background.”

Coincidentally – or not, depending on whom is asked – the record-setting uptick in gun registration (it’s not just in Washington Township, either: see our report on Mendham-Chester Patch) comes in the first full year after the tragic Newtown, Connecticut elementary school shooting.

On Dec. 14, 2012, a 20-year-old gunman named Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and went on a rampage killing 26 students and faculty members before turning the gun on himself. 

In the time since, President Obama has signed legislation on tighter background checks for gun buyers and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed into law nearly a dozen new provisions on gun control in the state.

In that first report on Patch in February, Washington Township Mayor Ken Short said, “I think has a lot to do with talk of gun control laws. “People are probably thinking ‘let me get in before the laws change.’”

“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 2008 to 2011 did not jump or waver the same way gun registrations did.

Crime rates for the first nine months in 2013 actually went down, according to the New Jersey State Police Uniform Crime Report.

What do you think of the jump in gun permits issued? Does it alarm you? Make you feel more secure?

roger freiday December 16, 2013 at 07:50 AM
Every new gun owner, especially those who have no experience in shooting, is another opportunity for some drugged out kid to be shot on forced entry to a local home. I might do the same in a crisis, but the novice may do it with really bad consequences all around. When I was a teenager we had the P.A.L. shooting course at the local cop shop. It was a good way to get used to the sport of shooting and what can go wrong if careless.
Forhonor December 16, 2013 at 10:21 AM
Good. Our forefathers would be glad; except for the whole jumping through hoops to use our right, which they fought so hard to guarantee.
Forhonor December 16, 2013 at 10:22 AM
NJ's strict gun laws have probably stopped zero gun crimes ever. Criminals don't mind the laws.
Moses Lonn December 16, 2013 at 11:46 AM
Without military training, you aren't safe with any hand gun until you have put 500 rounds through it under some supervision. At $30 to $50 a box, your education won't be cheap. For the most part, a baseball bat in the hall closet will serve as better protection. Or practice peace.
Forhonor December 16, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Lol
mary December 21, 2013 at 11:45 AM
''A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.'' It's pretty clear to me !!
Hookerman December 22, 2013 at 08:43 AM
Yes, and I generally support that right. But no constitutional right is without restrictions. I also support freedom of speech, but that doesn't mean that I support threats, harassment, liable, public profanity, or disturbing the peace. And people usually are required to obtain a permit to hold a protest, which is also a constitutional right. I believe in the right to bear arms, but I also believe in background checks to make sure the wrong people don't obtain guns, such as convicted criminals, the mentally ill, and those with a violent past. I believe that training should be required to own a gun. What do you believe Mary? Do you believe that the 2nd amendment should allow anyone to purchase a gun? A convicted murderer just released from prison, or a schizophrenic with a history of violence? Do you believe in no background checks or training? Do you believe there should be absolutely no responsibility to gun ownership???
Moses Lonn December 22, 2013 at 08:58 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/22/us/when-the-right-to-bear-arms-includes-the-mentally-ill.html “There is a big gap in the law,” said Jeffrey Furbee, the chief legal adviser to the Police Department in Columbus, Ohio. “There is no common-sense middle ground to protect the public.” Amen.
Forhonor December 26, 2013 at 09:17 AM
Lol @ furbee. It's up to the individual to protect oneself. Most people don't have private security with them at all times, and cops are outnumbered. NJ needs more lenient carry laws; as it stands now we are all just victims waiting for the next crime. The police can only do so much.

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