Gun range staff struggling with 3 recent suicides
May 18th, 2010 @ 9:30pm
By Sarah Dallof
MURRAY -- A trio of disturbing self-inflicted gunshots at a Utah gun range is bringing attention to a federal gun law. All three people rented a gun at the range then turned it on themselves.
It's an interesting law: Buy a gun from a store and you'll need to pass a background check; try one out, all you need to do is show ID. But that may not have prevented these shootings.
The staff at Get Some Guns and Ammo is struggling with the self-inflicted shooting of one their customers Monday night. It's the third time it's happened in six months.
"They seemed like normal people, very down to earth, very poised," says range owner Stuart Wallin.
In each case, the people showed ID, filled out a waiver to enter the range, then shot themselves with the very gun they checked out.
"I don't wish this on any of my competitors," Wallin says.
It's horrifying, but it's not the first time. It's happened at gun stores around the country. Two weeks ago, a Florida mother killed her adult son, then herself at a gun range.
So what does the law say? According to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, background checks are only required when one is purchasing a gun. Stores don't do them, nor are they required to, when someone is renting one at a range.
Get Some Guns and Ammo has people fill out a waiver, asking if the renter is legally allowed to have a gun, is on drugs or alcohol or is suicidal. Owners decided to do this story, saying they know they'll face criticism from some but wanting to tackle the subject of suicide head on.
"We feel for their families and their friends. Suicide solves nothing," Wallin says.
The shooting range has also adopted a new policy. Anyone who comes in alone -- like all three victims did -- is required to provide the phone number of a friend, parent or spouse.
"We're going to call them and say, 'Is "John" in a good state to be shooting guns?'" Wallin says.
Wallin said had the victims bought the guns, thus prompting background checks -- two of the three would have passed.