Citizen Police Academy: On the Gun Range

In the fifth week of the Citizen Police Academy, I learned more about guns taken off the streets of Newark and how to shoot one.

Guns were the topic Wednesday night during week five of the Newark Police Department’s Citizen Police Academy, and our class arrived to find a table full of revolvers, pistols, rifles and more.

Dozens of guns — all confiscated off the streets of little old Newark.

Like most of my classmates, I was shocked to learn that people in Newark are armed with  AK-47s and shotguns. Just feeling the weight of the weapons was intimidating.

And while officers said it’s a shame to find so many illegal guns out in Newark, they said once police take possession of them, they're helpful.

Once the guns are officially Newark Police property, officers get the chance to handle guns they normally do not handle. This helps them learn how to safely unload a weapon they might have to confiscate from someone.

 Some interesting facts:

  • All cops have a patrol rifle and a less-than-lethal shotgun in their patrol cars. Less-than-lethal shotguns are identical to 12-gauge shotguns, but they shoot beanbag rounds.
  • In the 1970s, officers used to carry 6-shot revolvers. That changed in the 1980s when criminals began carrying high capacity guns that had at least double the amount of shots per round.

The first time I shot a gun was in 2010, when I used a 9mm handgun at a gun range in Vacaville. I signed a piece of paper, had a quick lesson on how to load a gun and I was ready to go.

With my index finger near the trigger, I felt more anxiety than I ever thought I would feel. I aimed (at least tried to) and fired.

Click. Bang. Then: An immediate adrenaline rush.

But never in my life did I think I’d ever shoot a machine gun, which is what I did on Wednesday with the police academy. It's the second gun I've ever shot in my life.

We also got to shoot three handguns and a shotgun.

My favorite? It’s a toss up between the machine gun and the shotgun. (See the video above to check out my skills!)

Regardless, the main lesson learned that night was the importance of gun safety and the responsibility that comes with possessing a gun. Learn more about gun safety here.

The first shot I took Wednesday night with a machine gun was invigorating. Hearing the bullet hit the steel target, indicating I had aimed right, was even more exhilarating.

But I never would have felt that way if I had not had three knowledgeable, experienced officers by my side, informing me about the proper way to handle, aim and shoot the weapons we used.

Mona Taplin October 14, 2011 at 07:27 PM
Thank you for doing this Nika. I think everyone will be able to understand that our police officers don't just stand around sucking their thumbs or hide in fear if they too would join the Citizen Police Acadamy grads.Take a good look at that table full of confiscated guns and realize our officers put their lives on the line for all of us. I sincerely thank them for being there for us. The next time budget talks come up, remember we need a well equipped police and fire department, no matter what else has to go.
Timothy Swenson October 14, 2011 at 07:47 PM
I think the message of the article is that illegal guns are heck of fun to shoot.
DLH October 15, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Seriously, you were shocked to find out that Newark citizens have perfectly legal shotguns to defend themselves.
Wayne N' Sue October 15, 2011 at 06:03 PM
shooting like driving can be a lot of fun, you just have to obey the rules.


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