Gun safety event

MONROE (Middlesex County) — Days after yet another school shooting made national news, a gun rights group brought students and parents from Ocean County to a gun range for target practice and lessons.

The trip for students from Lacey Township to the Union Hill Gun Club was organized two students were disciplined for posting pictures of themselves at a gun range earlier this year — drawing condemnation from the New Jersey Second Amendment Society and other groups that said those students hadn't done anything wrong.

Alexander Roubian, the group's president, said sponsoring Saturday's event was a good chance to address the issues raised by Lacey's discipline.

"If students are going to the gun range, they should do it in a safe and responsible manner, and that's what we provided," he said.

Roubian said in addition to getting the chance to fire guns, the students and their parents learned about gun safety, and got a lesson on what exactly a firearm is, and how to handle it. Among the lessons taught on Sunday included, he said:

  • Not pointing a firearm in an unsafe direction
  • Keeping your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot
  • Keeping the firearm unloaded until you're ready to use it
  • Knowing what's behind the target "so you know if you're going to destroy something that it be something you want to destroy and not injure anybody."

Sunday's event was also used to inform the people who came about the various recreational opportunities that firearms provide, Rooubain said. He said for students there are competitive avenues they can pursue that can help them get money to go to college, or just be a way for families to do something together.

While close to 70 people signed up to attend, only around 20 came to the event. Roubian said the nice weather on Sunday may have been a factor, but whatever the number was he believed it had been a successful day. He also said many of the participants said it was their first time shooting a firearm, so he was glad they could provide them an education.

"I think what happened in Lacey was a misunderstanding and a hiccup," Roubian said. "But it doesn't ignore the fact of what's going on statewide and nationally, the war against guns and this anti-Second Amendment sentiment that's coming out from a small minority of vocal people trying to undermine and destroy the second amendment."

Ira Levin, the general manager of the gun club, told NJ.com that the smaller-than-expected turnout could have been related to the shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas just two days earlier, but he didn't know for sure.

"The turnout we had was kind of light, and whether that's predicated on what happened, I don't know," he said.

Roubian said the events in Texas and other places only reinforces the importance of events like Sunday.

"Part of the training and the education that we're providing advocates for safe and responsible firearm use and storage," he said. "That's something we've always done, but the opposition seems to demonize us despite the fact that what we're training and what we're advocating for are the same things that they're claiming are commonsense."

"I always wanted to shoot a gun since I was a kid," Sebastion, a 14-years-old who attended the event, told NJ.com. Pulling his first trigger "was really cool," he said.

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