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Rise in Gun Permits in Montgomery Township

Barbara A. Preston, Editor | NOVEMBER 19, 2020

The Montgomery Township Police Department is among law enforcement agencies seeing a rise in firearms permit applications during the pandemic and prevalent nationwide civil unrest since the George Floyd incident.

Statistics shared by the New Jersey State Police cite a total of 94,954 firearms applications submitted statewide in the first six months of 2020. During the same time period in 2019, officials handled 26,802 applications.

Montgomery Police Lt. Silvio Bet says the township has also seen record numbers of applications for firearms ID cards and permits to purchase handguns. “There is a huge influx of firearms permits,” Bet says. “We are extremely busy with firearms permits.”

State law requires residents to contact their local police department to request licensing to own a gun. Montgomery Township police did not say exactly how many more gun ownership applications they are processing, but did say they will have to add more people to the detective bureau to process the requests.

“We have at least 20 new applications every week,” Bet said. “That is a huge increase.” The rise in firearms permit applications is not unique to Montgomery Township.

Anxious Times

New Jersey Spotlight recently reported that “anxious times lead to spikes in requests for gun permits.” Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, told NJ Spotlight the dramatic increase in gun permit applications has to do with uncertainty.

“Right now, people are scared. They can’t believe what they’re seeing on TV and in the media,” Bach said in July. “They hear civil unrest and governments that won’t keep law and order, and so it’s a very natural response to want to take charge for your own self-protection.”

Gun Ownership Process

NJ has switched over to the more convenient online application form calls “FARS” (Firearms Application & Registration System). The online form should be used only after consultation with the resident’s local police department.

First time applicants wanting to obtain a firearm in NJ (handguns, rifles, or shotguns) must register through their local police department, or, through the state police when municipalities such as Rocky Hill do not have a police department. There is a background investigation, fingerprinting, and character references involved in the application. Residents with questions on the topic should contact the Montgomery Township Detective Bureau at 908.874.3333.

Firearm Safety, Proper Storage

New Jersey has what’s called CAP laws, Child Access Prevention Laws. There’s tremendous liability if a firearm should fall in the hands of a child and something happens. The gun owner can be held criminally liable.


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