“A chain of gun-shops that has built gun ranges across central Florida has announced it will no longer rent out guns in order to stop a string of suicides that occurred when customers borrowed weapons and used them to take their own lives,” rt.com reports. “Shoot Straight, the largest independently owned chain of gun stores in the state, announced on Friday that the company would end its policy. Khaled Akkawi, the store’s founder, said the economic impact on his business would be ‘significant’ but felt he had no choice to make the decision, which he did last month.” This after . . .
a customer committed suicide at the Pinellas Park Shoot Straight range in November. More recently, Raouf Kelada committed suicide at the [unaffiliated] Oak Ridge Gun Range on January 2nd. Strangely, that shooting triggered a racist/profiling rental prohibition policy:
“That won’t happen again,” said Oak Ridge owner John Harvey. “We don’t rent to any white male Florida resident who comes in alone. In the past 30 years, we’ve never has a suicide that wasn’t a white male Florida resident who came in alone. They don’t want to mess up their families’ homes, so they do it here.”
That’s one theory. While exceedingly rare, gun range suicides have spurred rental bans and policy changes at ranges throughout the country. Gander Mountain suspended rentals entirely, while Attleboro’s American Firearm School mandates unaccompanied renters must bring their own gun, after a suicide claimed a life in their pistol lanes.
It’s a shame. “Try before you buy” ranges perform a valuable service for customers, especially new shooters. Given the demonization of guns as suicide enablers by gun control advocates, this sea change bolsters their claim that reducing access to firearms will reduce suicides.