Reader John Dingell III writes:
On Monday, March 26th at 3:21 PM, a rental firearm was stolen from the range at Total Firearms in Mason, Michigan. Forty one minutes later, 30-year-old Timothy Patrick Olin fatally shot his former girlfriend Rachael Duncan at the JoAnn Fabrics store in Lansing Township where she worked. Olin then committed suicide with the gun.
Duncan was granted a personal protection order against Olin on March 6th which prohibited Olin from purchasing or possessing a firearm. Police confiscated Olin’s firearms and convinced him to check into Lansing’s St. Lawrence Hospital where he received a week-long psychological evaluation. But none of that deterred him.
Olin ordered a handgun online after the psych evaluation and, while impatiently waiting for it to be delivered to a second-hand store in Lansing, he went to the store and tried to buy another handgun from stock.
Investigators also learned that Olin tried to obtain a handgun from the Dicker and Deal second hand store in Lansing on March 15th, but was turned down after failing a background check.
The NICS check turned up the protection order against Olin and he never received either of the guns. No follow-up was done by law enforcement regarding the failed attempt to purchase a firearm while under court order.
Olin, however, was clever as well as determined. On the afternoon of the 26th, he rented a semi-automatic handgun and purchased ammunition to shoot at the range operated by Total Firearms. He then left without returning the weapon.
Chief Kline says Total Firearms was not required to perform a background check on Olin for renting a firearm, because the gun was not supposed to leave the property.
Total Firearms didn’t recognize that one of their rental handguns was missing until the next day, after the police arrived to discuss the matter.
Total Firearms likely won’t face criminal liability. The police have said as much. Michigan MCL 28.430 requires a person who owns a firearm to report its theft to the police within five days after he or she becomes aware that a firearm is stolen. The ATF is more strict, however. They allow only 48 hours to report stolen guns to both ATF and the local police.
Civil liability, however, is another story. Defendants are routinely found liable at civil bar for actions which are entirely legal under criminal law. Four of six jury members might very well infer reckless conduct.
Total Firearms runs Michigan’s big gun shows as Sport Show Promotions. The owner, Doug Carl, is well known among Michigan gun owners. This story has created a furious debate amongst Michigan gun owners as the details have emerged. The question being how much supervision a range should exercise over their rental pistols.
This situation also demonstrates that orders of protection or “extreme risk protection orders” can and will be circumvented by a clever and determined criminal. We can probably also expect calls from the gun control side for increased tracking and supervision at ranges, possibly even including background checks for anyone wanting to rent a firearm.