In 2009, Marie Moore, pictured above, took her son Mitchell to a Florida shooting range and rented some guns. While Mitchell lined up, Marie killed him with a single shot to the head, then shot herself. She'd had a history of mental illness. She's one of many such Americans who have killed with rented firearms.
A new video report by Fusion's Kimberly Brooks highlights the difficulties in preventing gun deaths at rental ranges, where shooters don't need criminal or mental health background checks to take a variety of loaded weapons to the firing line:
Brooks reports that the CDC has tracked about 50 suicides at gun ranges in recent years, but that's only from piecemeal stats in a handful of states—and it doesn't include freewheeling Florida, where there have been a rash of range deaths, including a handful in Tampa Bay and a whopping 11 with rented guns in the Orlando area alone since 2009, prompting some range owners to shut down their rental operations.
The risks weigh heavily on range operators, too, as Brooks' report shows. She interviewed Ralph DeMicco, a gun-seller who, racked with misgivings about suicides committed with his weapons, teamed up with Harvard's School of Public Health to launch the Gun Shop Project, which encourages sellers to exercise greater vigilance in their business and pass on suicide-prevention info to their customers.
"It's the only way to get people together to talk about the issue," DeMicco said, "because when you polarize it by bringing in the gun control concept, you immediately lock out people like me, you immediately lock out people who have valuable input and can very much add to the situation."
Gerald Delatour, the operator of a range where Brooks herself went through some cursory paperwork to rent a pistol, told her how he tries to spot problem customers before they get their hands on a weapon. But even then, there are no guarantees.
"It would be devastating," he told her as he thought about the possibility of a shooting on the range, shaking his head and pausing. "But... we would... have to change certain things around when it happens."