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Something’s in the water in central Florida. There’s been a spate of suicides at gun ranges in the greater Orlando area. And one range in particular has been the site of three incidents…

A man walked into the Shoot Straight range in suburban Casselberry yesterday, rented a gun and shot himself. Shoot Straight was also the site of a much-publicized murder-suicide in April of 2009 when a mother shot her son and then herself.

Three weeks later, apparently taking a cue from the earlier incident, another mentally disturbed man committed suicide at Shoot Straight in the same manner prompting the range to suspend gun rentals until, as the range’s attorney said, “until the state lets gun ranges conduct background checks on customers.”

Background checks probably wouldn’t have prevented any of these shootings. Federal databases can’t look into the hearts and minds of renters standing on the other side of a rental counter. And while convicted felons can’t own firearms, is there a prohibition against renting one at a range?

It seems that after the world-wide publicity the mother-son shooting caused, at least some of the subsequent shootings were probably copycat incidents. Which doesn’t minimize their tragedy. At all.

The fact remains, though, that a determined suicidal individual will find a way. Gun rental is just one option. That it happens so infrequently at gun ranges – central Florida excepted – only proves the point.


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  1. “And while convicted felons can’t own firearms, is there a prohibition against renting one at a range?”

    Under federal and most state laws, felons are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms. The federal government has a “relief from disability” process which may allow felons to request and receive restoration of firearms rights from the BATFE. Most states do not have such a process, and felons are strictly forbidden to possess firearms even if the BATFE has given them the big “thumbs up, go get your gun Mr. Felon.” Possession includes the act of holding or firing a firearm (and in some jurisdictions, even having immediate access to a firearm) even if the felon does not own it.

  2. What you call “another mentally disturbed man” was one of you guys right up until the moment he did the deed.

    You’re right a background check wouldn’t have helped in these cases, that’s because the background check system is broken. It’s got to be updated better. It’s got to include some kind of mental health screening. It’s got to be administered to anyone who even wants to touch gun, I mean that literally.

    Then, you’ll screen out some of these nuts, still not all but it’ll be an improvement..

    • If people want to off themselves, they ought to be able to do it at a assisted suicide facility of their choosing. But pleeze, not at a shooting range. The owners are simply not prepared to clean up the mess.

      And mikey, if he was “one of us,” he wouldn’t have needed to rent a gun. Man, you ain’t the sharpest tool in the chandelier, are ya.

    • Why guns?

      What about making mental health screening a part of getting a driver’s liscence?

      A car’s a dandy way to commit suicide. You can drive fast and hit something, or use it to suffocate.

      What about parachuting? Should there be mental health screening before soemone qualifies to go solo?

      Not to mention knives, rope, bridges, pills.

      What makes firearms so special? Unless your concern is not really suicidal people.

    • “… a background check wouldn’t have helped in these cases…It’s got to be updated better. It’s got to include some kind of mental health screening. It’s got to be administered to anyone who even wants to touch gun, I mean that literally.”

      You’re crazy if you think this will fly with us. It’s utterances like this that stoke the fires of gun rights activism. Thanks, mike!

    • The background check should screen out Democrats and anybody else who voted for Obama.

  3. What a bunch of crap! I expected no less of mikeb and his “what if” and “we should regulate this” garbage. Regulate yourself all the way to having The Thought Police, what a world you offer! As for the “suicide range”, they have unfortunately become an attraction the same as a popular bridge to have depressed souls jump off of-it used to happen here on the Cooper River Bridge quite often. The fact of the matter is that unstable people read and watch the news also, mikeb is case in point.

  4. Gun ranges, tall buildings, bridges, train crossings. If you spent enough time around any of them you will eventually be confronted by a suicide.

    • “The background check system is broken”-Ha! I remember when that was forced onto us here in SC, you remember mikeb, the state you insulted from ignorance-never having been here. The background checks were the end all/be all from the Brady Bunch. And now, (surprise!), another liberal proposition has failed. Go back to your self-righteous, self-congratulating tribe and leave us to the real world.

    • Background checks for ownership or being in tall buildings. That would be genius!

  5. One time when I was off duty from the SC Department of Corrections, I was at a local bar in East Columbia. A woman had been in there about an hour, suddenly seeming very drunk. She staggered out to the parking lot and collapsed. I had followed her, to keep her from driving. She stopped breathing. I gave rescue breathing, and got thrown up on. As we waited for the ambulance, she admitted swallowing a bottle of pain pills before she began drinking, because she wanted to die. So I ask you, should we interview and background check all people entering a bar?

      • No, as a law enforcement officer my duty was to render all aid within my capability. We don’t let people in need die in front of us here on the right coast. I’m not a doctor or a lawyer and we weren’t in a hospital room debating on removing artificial respiration. I stayed with her until the ambulance drove away. Then I tried to get all the vomit off my clothes.

  6. So according to mike anyone with any interest in shooting needs their head examined. Maybe you should be evaluated every time you want to handle a gun.

  7. Let me chime in as a Floridian:

    1. This happens a few times a year at ranges where guns are rented. I can remember a few occasions where we get tourists who come here to commit suicide through gun rental because they can’t get access to guns in their home state or countries!

    2. With the exception of that lady who killed her son and then herself, I can’t remember a single instance of anybody else getting hurt.

    3. I don’t feel the problem is widespread enough to warrant a policy change. Plus I don’t think a background check is going to reveal if someone is suicidal or not.

    4. I’m not sure how vital rental income is these days to a range staying open. But I would hate to see ranges close if rentals are a component of paying the rent. That said, my sense is that the ranges that rent out guns these days are in the minority anyway.

    Just to avoid any confusion, a rental is for the range only…you don’t take it home over the weekend!

  8. Our resident Progressive, MikeB302000, wants to overhaul the background check system to include a mental health test. Mike, have you ever had a mental health exam. (Of course not. Mental health exams are for other people, right?) Having gone through this process three times within the last two years with my dad (I had to petition the court to become his legal guardian), I can tell you, first-hand, a mental state test would give you zero protection against someone who wants to do evil with a gun. A mental state test is designed to test cognition, memory, mood, and response to stimuli. Modern psychology simply doesn’t have the tools to accurately determine the mental health of anybody. (If they did, don’t you think that Jarred Lee Loughner would have been locked up, gun or no?) And then there’s the hidden “gotcha” in the testing: No doctor that’s gone through the time, expense, and pain of med school is going to want to put their career on the line and approve even one application, if they know that if the person they approve does do something bad with a gun, their own career would be put in jeopardy. Not gonna happen. Of course, I suspect you know that, and this, for you, is just a backdoor way into to a complete gun ban.

    All hyperbole aside, there are lots of things we could do to make it harder for people that should have guns to own them. Sadly, none of those things really work, and all of them have the side effect of creating a near-insurmountable barrier to those who are responsible and want to simply exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.

    • Brad, that’s bullshit on two points. I’m not trying to do a backdoor to anything, least of all to accomplish a total ban on guns. Why do you keep harping on that? You sound like you desparately want to have the world against you.

      The second nonsense thing you said was that I want a “near-insurmountable barrier” between law-abiding folks and guns. I don’t think background checks on all sales would do that, do you? Even the dreaded licensing and registration would only require you to put up with a couple more hoops to jump through. So please drop the drama and exaggeration.

      • What of this quote two days ago [via: walls of the city]

        All right, I was exaggerating. If you guys suddenly cooperated with the common sense gun control laws that we propose and we saw a tremendous decrease in gun violence, we would naturally want stricter laws in order to lower even more the remaining gun violence. Eventually, I and most of the others would conclude that no guns at all in civilian hands is the best way to go.

  9. I love it! I saw the post, quickly put on my cammies and set up an ambush. Along the trail came mikeb, cone hat, black pajamas and all. Once again my M60 was flawless. The smoke grenade I tossed and the staccato rhythm of his Russian AK 47 drew in friendlies. Ambush complete, mikeb was gone, leaving his weapon and Party Papers behind…

  10. In the area of California that I live in you either have to own and show your gun to rent one or be accompanied by another person to rent a weapon. This was done after a spat of suicides. It is not a state mandate just what the ranges did. Since then they have had zero suicides.

    In answer to mike302000

    mikeb302000 says:
    “It’s got to be updated better. It’s got to include some kind of mental health screening. It’s got to be administered to anyone who even wants to touch gun, I mean that literally.”

    Mike who makes the determination, you, people like you, Gun grabbers, radicals from the left or right? I can guaranteed you that there are gun control people out there who would love to get the fact that some wants a weapon to automatically disqualify them on mental health grounds.

    Their logic goes like this… Because is the states job to protect the people and ENFORCE laws if you do not trust the state you must be mentally unstable and not able to have a gun.

    Think it could not happen. Below is the link to RF’s article about Cuba and there amnesty for illegal guns. The point that relate to this is the quote
    ” During this “exceptional and one-time only” two-month amnesty, gun owners who come forward and pass aptitude and psychological tests will be allowed to keep their weapons. ”

    With the exception of one or two well connect person I can state every one that turns their weapons in will fail the tests. Why? Because they are enemies of the state and do not trust it. The proof to the fact that they did not “Trust the State” was the possession of the weapon. Therefore they fail?

    • Ranges are always concerned about liability regardless of whatever waiver one might sign before shooting. The range I’m a member of is rather paranoid when it comes to safety (as every range should be). Its a private range open to the public.

      I’ve never really considered it, but every range (indoor/outdoor) i’ve ever been to in CA seems to follow the same policy. Individuals aren’t allowed to rent a lane or a gun if they come in by themselves. Its not mandated but from the ranges standpoint, I would think a prudent safeguard for the rare suicidal person.

      If they are determined to end their own life, let them do it in the privacy of their own home. Preferably where the blood won’t hurt the homes resale value 🙂

      Liability insurance even from the NRA isn’t inexpensive and an unfortunate accident (potentially followed by a civil suit can close a range quickly).

      • Wow. I am glad local ranges near me don’t have that rule. When I was first shopping for a gun I went 5 days a week for 6 weeks to the ranges trying out different guns. Always by myself because I didn’t know any shooters.

        Now I go by myself 2-3 times a week (and once or so accompanied) often trying out new guns in the rental case.

        Rules like that would have made it impossible for me to rent guns.

    • How about if you and people like you make the determination. After all, you should police yourselves, don’t you think. Every incident hurts your movement. If they continue, the scales might tip.

      So I nominate you guys as the mental health screeners.

  11. mikeb302000 wants to be able to decide who exercises their right to life, liberty, and property. Mike is better than other people. He wants to rule over others. What an absolute monster.

  12. Greetings:

    Well, I watched the video, and I didn’t see anything unusual.

    What suicide are you referring to?

    Did the shooter commit suicide right after that last frame in the video?

    Thank you.

    John Robert Mallernee
    Armed Forces Retirement Home
    Gulfport, Mississippi 39507

    • I think the video is just generic footage. Click onto the purple words in the post for the news reports. “AirBorne!”

  13. I was talking to the owner of a local shooting range and he stated that if someone walks in off the street, alone, no shooting gear and just wants to rent a gun he will not let them. He is concerned they might be suicidal and just looking for an easy way to off themself.

  14. My local indoor gun range will only rent you a gun if you bring a gun with you to the range. They started that policy after someone rented a gun and off-ed himself with it.

    • It’s a shame that some people think they have nothing left. I knew a guy we had in jail for a short while. Over a petty charge, he was always upbeat and happy, but the day he got out he took a .357 magnum round with him to a pawn shop, asked to see a revolver, and blew his brains out.

  15. I like the California rule about having to have someone with you when you rent a gun. At one point the Casselberry Shoot Straight wouldn’t allow rentals unless you gave a name of a relative that could verify that you weren’t under any care for mental health issues. That all took place after my son Jason took his life there on April 27, 2009. He suffered from schizo-affective disorder for over 6 long years and had made many other attempts which he survived from. If they had notified me that he was there to rent a gun, I would of told them absolutely NOT, he was severely ill. These people DON’T choose to become so ill that they are no longer in their right mind. It is an illness just like a cancer of the brain where all their rational thought processes are gone, eaten away by this cruel illness. I suffer each time there is another shooting there because for some reason the news needs to sensationalize the story and include the video of the Marie/Mitchell Moore shooting along with mentioning my son’s name. I am trying to heal but can NOT if they continue to keep bringing up this in the manner they are using. My son Jason was a very loving and giving person who fought the voices in his head and could no longer keep up that constant battle. I do NOT blame Shoot Straight for this as I too purchased a gun from them in the past. My son Jason did not know that this gun was in our home because of his illness. So, I am NOT anti guns… but I do wish someone could come up with a viable solution that would help stop someone with a horrible illness from being able to rent a gun so easily. Rather than making fun of these poor sick souls, perhaps work on coming up with ways to make a gun range safer for those who want to be able to use the gun ranges safely and keep those that are very ill out. I did the best I could and took my son to all of his mental health appointments but his illness is a terminal illness just like cancer and unfortunately he took his life there in a very public way, he saw the other story with all the detail of how easy it was to lie about his illness on the form, rent the gun, then stop his pain…. He was my only son and our family misses him terribly… RIP my dear son….

    • I am sorry for your loss, and your battle. In August 2009, my father lost a long battle with 5 tumors in his brain and in every major organ. The VA had missed the tumors in his brain and classified him as having dementia. It was a long suffering, watching my father go insane. Luckily he did not feel pain until the last 3 days. He went into a final coma screaming. It is horrible having to accept what we cannot change, and enduring what we cannot give aid in, it is sorrow to the end. My sincerest condolences. Mike P.

  16. Why do imbeciles bring politics into a suicide discussion like this? Democrats and Conservatives both have commited suicide in the past….so what. If someone wants to kill themselves, they will find a way.

  17. Ranges should halt all renting of guns….period. These are the only people who have killed themselves at the ranges so far.
    This latest person shot himself in the head and survived??????? Talk about someone who needs to practice a little more.

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