Neighborhood watch meeting provides education on firearm safety

Vince Peluso

The Kent Police Department held its monthly neighborhood watch meeting Tuesday night, offering residents education on home firearm safety.

Lt. Jayme Cole gave a presentation to six Kent residents on gun safety and answered questions attendants had about firearms.

“A shotgun is no different from a hammer,” Cole said. “Both are tools, and both are potentially dangerous weapons. The question is how are they used and with what intent?”

Cole, who said he isn’t pro-gun or anti-gun, urged that citizens who own weapons for self-defense purposes lock those guns in a safe box, which he demonstrated how to use.

For those who own a weapon for hunting purposes, he recommended the gun stay in a safe place, unloaded, while the ammunition is locked away in another part of the home.

“An unloaded gun is no more dangerous than any other blunt object,” he said. “It’s important that if you own a deer gun you make sure the weapon is in a lockable container while the ammunition is kept in a separate container.”

Sue Whiting, a resident of Riverbend Boulevard, said she attended her first meeting because she was interested in starting her own neighborhood watch group.

However, she found the presentation on home firearms to be beneficial.

“I thought it was interesting,” she said. “I learned a lot. I wasn’t aware of some of the laws concerning self-defense when it comes to guns.”

Cole explained in the meeting that deadly force in Ohio can only be used when an intruder has means, opportunity and intent to injure; something Whiting was unaware of.

“If a burglar breaks into your house and is stealing your television you can’t simply shoot him or her,” Cole said. “A plea of self-defense cannot be applied when you seek out the danger. In that situation, I would urge you to call the police.”

Mary Kenneley, attending her second meeting, said she took a class on firearms and feels it is important for everyone to be educated on weapons even if they have no intent to buy a gun.

“I think the more education we have, the better,” she said. “I feel safer after receiving some training and knowledge of guns.”

Those in attendance at the meeting received a free gunlock, which is simply a cord that locks through the chamber of a gun that ensures the weapon cannot be loaded or fired.

The locks were provided courtesy of the “Project ChildSafe” program, which is a nationwide program the Kent Police Department participates with attempting to promote safe and responsible firearm storage.

The Kent neighborhood watch meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month in the training room of the Kent Police Department and cover a wide range of topics.

Cole said the meetings began in February as an opportunity for citizens to come in and meet with a police officer in an informal setting.

“It’s just a chance for people to come in and talk about various topics,” he said. “While I choose the main focus of meetings, people can come in and ask about any topic they choose. It’s an opportunity for them to come in and ask questions about things they might not normally call a police officer about.”

Contact Vince Peluso at [email protected].