Collier Police hold gun safety class
Gun safety was the topic of discussion during a recent class offered by the Collier Township Police Department. The class, called Basic Gun Safety and Familiarization, was held April 13 and taught by Collier police officers Kris Sabin and Bill Oslick, members of the department’s firearms training unit. The free class was attended by more than 30 township residents, some of whom were gun owners or thinking about owing a gun, and some who were curious about gun safety in general. A few attendees had never fired or held a gun before.
Sabin and Oslick brought in several unloaded department guns and their own personal weapons for display and for attendees to look at and touch.
Amber Was of Collier recently became a gun owner and attended the class because she wants “to be a responsible gun owner.”
Theresa Basinger of Collier Township said she is also a gun owner and a domestic violence survivor. “I’m very pro-second amendment. I never intend on being a victim again,” she said, adding that she came to the class to show her support of gun ownership.
“I came just for the knowledge,” said Sam Thomeier, who grew up in Collier Township and now lives in Carnegie and owns a gun for home protection. “More knowledge is always good.”
Lynn Gaglia of Crafton said she hadn’t held a gun until attending the class. “It was very heavy,” she said.
The officers started off the class by explaining that there are three different types of weapons: manually operated, semi-automatic and automatic. With manually operated weapons, a person must physically manipulate the action of the gun to fire it. Manual weapons are bolt action and pump action guns, and can include rifles, shotguns and handguns.
Oslick explained that bolt action guns have the ammunition in front of the trigger and the person has to “lift the handle above the trigger.” He said with pump action guns, a person has to manually move the pump action.
Semi-automatic weapons are “commonly what we all carry as police officers,” Oslick said. He explained that a semi-automatic gun “will fire as fast as you can pull the trigger.” He added that a magazine for a semi-automatic gun can hold six to 20 rounds.
Another example of a semi-automatic gun is an assault rifle like an M4 or AR-15. Oslick showed attendees the department’s AR-15 rifle and said that police departments do not use automatic rifles, but instead use the semi-automatic ones. “It’s not designed for law enforcement to have a full automatic weapon,” Oslick said. “We can’t have collateral damage.”
Oslick explained that full automatic weapons will fire without resetting the trigger. He said the government can own full automatic weapons and they are considered a Class 3 weapon. All automatic weapons have to be registered with the ATF and are extremely expensive and regulated. Class 3 weapons are any considered to be any automatic weapon or weapon with a barrel of less than 16 inches or any weapon with a type of silencer on it.
“Fully automatic weapons are not available for individual officers to purchase,” Sabin said, adding that new automatic weapons are only available for purchase by the government and military.
The officers also talked about how real guns can look like toy guns and vice versa. Sabin said that the officers have been running into the problem of toy guns looking very real. They showed photos of several guns – one pink with Hello Kitty decals on it – to prove that even a gun with Hello Kitty on it is real. Sabin said that often air soft guns can be mistaken for real guns as well.
Types of ammunition were also discussed during the class and the officer passed out several examples of ammunition so that attendees could see the differences.
Safety was also discussed during the class and the officers stressed the importance of locking away guns and installing child safety locks on guns. Free safety cable locks were given to all in attendance. All new guns come with safety locks. The officers said accidents at the home can be prevented by locking away guns and Sabin added, “You not securing up your firearm could possibly lead to charges,” if an accident happens.
Although the folks in attendance were all over the age of 16, Sabin stressed that those with children should tell them, “If you find a gun, don’t pick it up – leave it alone and tell an adult right away.” Sabin, a father himself, added that he has talked to his children about his duty belt and that his kids know not to touch it. Showing his children his duty belt “lessens their curiosity about it,” he said. Sabin said that it is important to “educate kids about guns,” and let them know that even if they see a gun that looks like a toy, “don’t touch it.” He added, “Some guns may look like toy guns, so don’t take a chance.”
Oslick said he has also talked to his children about weapons and not to touch them and to tell an adult immediately if they see a weapon. “You have to explain to them – you can’t recall the bullet like in a cartoon,” Oslick said.
The officers said that the best place to store guns in the home is in a heavy vault or safe that is locked and to keep the keys and combinations away from children. A lockbox is also a good way to store a gun, but also make sure to keep the combination and keys away from kids, but the drawback is that someone can steal the lockbox. It is also a good idea to disassemble the gun when it’s not in use so that it cannot be accidentally fired. Sabin said it’s also important to keep an inventory list of all the firearms in one’s home.
The officers said they would like to do more gun safety classes in the future.