Concerned by Sandy Hook, Rindge offers gun class
RINDGE - Police and the Rindge Crime Watch are sponsoring a free two-hour gun safety class and demonstration this month.
The class will be held at the Rindge Community Center at Wellington Park on Tuesday, March 19, at 7 p.m.
Rindge Police Chief Frank Morrill said the class was organized partly because of the Sandy Hook school shootings. At the time of the Connecticut school shooting in December, the Rindge Crime Watch was working with police to organize a "citizens police academy" type of monthly training classes for the public and as a way to keep the Crime Watch group active.
The first two classes this year were a basic first-aid and a use of force Taser demonstration.
"The idea of gun safety came up at the time the Sandy Hook shootings had happened, and there was this growing desire to learn about the proper handling and storing of firearms," Morrill said.
Soon after the Connecticut school shooting, Morrill said he also saw his department's gun permit applications dramatically increase.
"At the same time, pistol permit applications were going through the roof. We had our monthly numbers becoming weekly numbers. Lots of them are couples, and lots of them are females," Morrill said. "... We would be doing 15 to 20 per month, and now we seem to be doing that per week."
Gun law changes
Morrill said the applicants seem to be driven by possible changes to guns laws and are looking to acquire guns before it becomes too restrictive.
"I think it's about all the media attention of laws potentially changing," he said. "I think people are just concerned about more restrictions being put in place. . We decided to be proactive and to be the first in the area to offer a gun safety class," Morrill said.
State Fish and Game is providing an instructor and an additional officer to assist. Rindge gun dealer Tye Taylor of American Weapons Systems will answer questions about gun ownership and requirements.
"What is the process to acquiring a gun? . People are just looking to get educated," Morrill said.
The proper handling and storage of firearms is to be covered, Morrill said.
Morrill said attendees will receive a free gun-safety lock. Morrill pursued federal funds to purchase the locks to give away at the class, but the funds were never issued, he said. So the Rindge Police Association, Rindge Crime Watch and the Rindge Woman's Club donated $100 each toward the purchase of the locks.
Walmart sold the group the locks, which retail at $5.97, for $3 each.
Morrill expects 50 to 60 people to attend the class. In the future, he hopes the federal government would fund the purchase of safety locks.
"Our long term hope is that we have them at the police department on an ongoing basis and hand them out to every applicant for pistol permits," Morrill said.
Longtime to first-time gun owners should walk away from the class with ideas of how to be safer firearms owners, he said.
"I do think gun owners need to demonstrate a higher responsibility in the wake of what's been happening throughout the country," Morrill said.