Should Gun Ranges Stop Allowing Patrons to Rent Firearms Due to Suicide Risk?

A man in his 20s fatally shot himself Tuesday at the Gun for Hire shooting range in Woodland Park, police said. (Luke Nozicka | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

The Gun for Hire shooting range in Woodland Park, NJ. (Photo: Luke Nozicka | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

A New Jersey man in his 20s committed suicide last week at a gun range with a rented firearm, sparking controversy over a state law that allows for the temporary transfer of firearms to anyone over 18. Tuesday’s incident is the sixth suicide at a New Jersey gun range in the past two years, according to Nj.com.

The shooting occurred at a gun range in Woodland Park, NJ, called Gun For Hire, which allows adult males to rent firearms if they have a driver’s license and are accompanied by a friend. Adult women do not need a companion to rent a firearm.

Many gun ranges across the country allow their customers to rent guns, but the laws governing these rentals vary from state to state.

New Jersey, despite its well-known slate of draconian gun laws, allows gun ranges to rent handguns, rifles, or shotguns to adults even if that person does not hold a “firearms purchase identification card” or a permit to carry a handgun.

Monmouth County, NJ, attorney Evan Nappen explained to NJ.com that the law was designed to allow people to test a firearm before purchasing it.

“The ability to transfer is useful for the overwhelming number of law-abiding citizens,” Nappen said. “If you don’t make this available, you’re going to force people into a long licensing procedure and they may end up with a gun even though they don’t want one.”

The law also allows New Jersey residents to loan firearms to other people for the purpose of hunting as long as the person to whom the firearms is loaned holds a valid hunting license and rifle permit (if applicable).

See Also: ‘Gun Death’ and Suicide: How the Pro-Gun Community is Working to Prevent Suicide in America

But for some, the law’s clear practical value does not outweigh the supposed danger of handing a firearm to “people off the street.”

“This is insanity,” Manny Cerca told NJ.com. Cerca has owned the Bullet Hole shooting range in Belleville, NJ, for more than three decades, and he only allows customers to rent his firearms if they already hold a state-issued firearms ID card.

“We’ve been here 35 years and we’ve never had an incident. And there’s a reason – we don’t rent any firearms at our facility,” Cerca said.

According to the NJ.com report, there have been six suicides at gun ranges in the last two years, all of which involved a rented firearm. Some, like Manny Cerca, believe these deaths could have been avoided if New Jersey disallowed the temporary transfer of firearms.

Others, like Evan Nappen, believe restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens won’t help those with suicidal tendencies. The mayor of Woodland Park, Keith Kazmark, agreed. He said in an interview with NJ.com that if someone is determined to kill himself, he “is going to find a way,” regardless of whether a shooting range is nearby.

What are your thoughts, should gun ranges stop allowing patrons to rent firearms because of the potential for suicide?

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Christian July 26, 2016, 8:58 am

    From what I have learned, while browsing many blog entries as well as the comments on this website, New Jersey is already a hotbed for gun owners. I do believe that these six suicides in two years are of course bad but no reason you should pick on guns, no matter if rented or not.

    Again, instead of trying to figure out WHY these persons committed suicide, they now bring the gun topic up again. I guess you guys in America must be already tired of this stupidity. If someone wants to commit suicide, he/she has many options to do so: Drowning, cutting the wrist, jump from the roof/window of a tall building or whatever, just to name a few. It is fast mental health care that is important here. Guns are not the issue.

    So, according to the question at the end of this blog entry: No, I do not believe that gun ranges shall stop allowing patrons to rent firearms, at least not if they don’t want to. They also shouldn’t be forced by a new law to do so. Leave it to them, they are responsible enough to decide this for themselves, it is a part of freedom to decide things like that by yourself. In my belief we need other actions, like the one I’ve mentioned, to prevent suicides.

    By the way, isn’t it against anti-discrimination that an adult male has to be accompanied by a friend to rent a firearm while adult women can come by all alone to do exactly the same thing?

    • Jackie September 25, 2016, 3:01 pm

      I have yet to go to a shooting range and own my first gun, but at a private range no, I don’t think the male companion law can be challenged. At a public range it probably would be. But statistically, completed (not attempted) suicide rates by men are much higher than women and men use guns as a way out far more than women do. Insurance companies are allowed to charge men more for car insurance legally and for reasons involving reckless driving and a higher DUI rate.

      Prob depends on the state, too

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend