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?