Police department seminar to teach firearm safety

Palmyra and Cinnaminson Police Departments joins Riverton to offer free program to area residents

After a recent influx in applications for gun permits, three local police departments have come together to offer a free basic training seminar to residents.

“It’s something we think is important,” Riverton police department patrolman Andrew Beuschel said. “We think it will be valuable to the citizens.”

Response thus far for the seminar, offered to Riverton, Cinnaminson and Palmyra residents through their respective police departments, has been tremendous, so much so that two seminars are planned for Sept. 14 and 15 at the Cinnaminson Community Center.

For Roy Wagner, a detective sergeant and supervising firearms instructor for the Cinnaminson Township Police Department, getting involved with the seminar was an easy decision.

“When Officer Beuschel approached us with the idea of hosting a firearms safety class, we jumped at the opportunity to be a part of it,” Wagner said. “Like many other municipalities in New Jersey, we saw an increase in our applications for firearm identification cards and permits.”

Palmyra Police Chief Meghan Campbell also reflected on the increase of firearms applications both locally and across the state.

“Our firearms applications are up tremendously from last year,” Campbell said. “We believe that the class on firearm safety will be beneficial to all individuals – from those that have never held a firearm before to those that may need a refresher on the laws that govern the purchase/transportation of firearms.

“The class is designed to cover the needs of everyone in attendance.”

Firearms instructors from each police department will lead the first-time seminar, which will include information on current firearm laws, a discussion of gun ownership and home protection, an explanation of a firearm’s parts through a PowerPoint presentation and case laws decided in New Jersey. There will also be a question-and-answer session. No firearms or live ammunition will be part of the program.

“What we’re hoping for is to connect with residents in two ways. One being to introduce ourselves and have a community event. And two, to give them all their options. Give them all their laws. Make sure they’re safe with these weapons,” Beuschel said.

In New Jersey, those applying for a firearm permit are not required to take any type of safety class or seminar. A similar program to what the police departments offer free to residents can cost upward of $250 with the National Rifle Association (NRA) or other organizations.

“This is free. It’s a community policing event,” Beuschel noted. “It’s something we feel is important. We don’t want to charge people. We don’t want to discourage people if they don’t have the money to do it.”

Wagner pointed out that many recent applicants for gun permits are first-time gun buyers.

“A gun can be very dangerous in an untrained individual’s hands, and there are many responsibilities and laws that come with gun ownership,” he said. “You would not put a brand-new driver behind the wheel of a vehicle without first being educated on the dangers and responsibilities that go along with being a licensed driver. That person would receive training on operating a car and the rules of the road.

“This same principle applies to being a first-time gun owner,” Beuschel added. “By hosting this class, we can ensure that many gun owners are not only safe, but are well equipped with the knowledge they will need to be responsible gun owners.”

To reserve a spot in the upcoming seminar, email Beuschel at abeuschel@riverton-police.com. The current seminars are tentatively scheduled for Sept. 14 and 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Cinnaminson Community Center, and more will be added if interest continues to increase.