Free gun safety locks are available at police headquarters, the police chief said.

WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Police Department is among law enforcement agencies seeing a rise in firearms permit applications during the pandemic, and it may consider more education for the public on gun safety, the town’s police chief said.

Police Chief Christopher Battiloro in a recorded Q&A session shared by the department Tuesday said Westfield police recently formed a firearms unit that handles applications for such permits and that if there is significant resident interest, then the department would consider educational support on the topic.

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“Since this pandemic began, we have seen record numbers of applications for firearms ID cards and permits to purchase handguns,” Battiloro said, responding to a resident’s question. “By record numbers, I mean in excess of 400.”

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In the Q&A with Mayor Shelley Brindle, Battiloro discussed possible educational support in the context of New Jersey’s firearms Child Access Prevention Law, known as CAP.

“We could certainly consider putting something together in the future regarding firearm safety, proper storage,” Battiloro said. “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 there, you can be held criminally liable.”

The rise in firearms permit applications is not unique to Westfield.

Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, told NJ Spotlight recently that uncertain times have prompted a statewide rise in gun permit applications.

“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.”

Battiloro directed residents with questions on the topic to contact to the officer in charge of the department’s firearms unit. Detective William Kleeman may be reached at 908-789-6054 or wkleeman@wpdnj.org.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

View the full video segment here:

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