Royal Oak commissioner proposing gun rental policy for ranges

Royal Oak commissioner proposing gun rental policy for ranges

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

Gun ranges are dealing with a problem.  People are going there to die.  Most customers go to them for target practice, but apparently some sick people go to commit suicide.

"I think we need to look at this as a public health issue," said Royal Oak City Commissioner Peggy Goodwin.

She is proposing a policy -- if you're unknown to a shooting range, she doesn't want that range renting you a gun.

She points to five suicides since 2001, all by people who rented a gun at Target Sports in Royal Oak.  Incidents of suicide by a rented gun at a range have increased nationally.

"So I don't want to take away anyone's rights, but I do want to see if that particular store could enact some policies that would prevent somebody that's coming in there in a moment of distress -- because I do believe suicide is preventable -- and maybe detouring them from harming themselves or others," Goodwin said.

A new policy is posted on the walls of Target Sports.  It reads, "Due to change in our insurance, all firearm rentals must be done in a group of two or more individuals."

"My staff is trained and we constantly remind our staff to engage our customers.  We want to know what their particular mood is, what their feelings are as they come in here to perhaps rent a gun or try a gun out," said William Kucyk, who operates Action Impact gun range in Southfield.

"I have trained range officers.  I pay for those range officers.  They're out there at all times that we're open.  They're doing a number of things.  They're there for free instruction.  They're evaluating.  If they think somebody's committing a safety violation, they address it.  If somebody needs help, all they have to do is request it," he added.  "If there were signs of depression, then we would address that and ask that person to leave the range."

Kucyk has brought in Dr. Eric Coffman, a specialist on addiction, who also works with Action Impact range officers on how to interact with customers.

"He encourages his employees to have discourse with the customer, to see what kind of eye contact they make, to see if they look like they've been using any drugs or alcohol, and he's very conscientious about that," said Coffman.

In Royal Oak, there is a three-pronged attack to this issue.  The police department, the city commissioners and the gun range owners have gotten together and they're sharing ideas.  There's a meeting Monday night at city hall where they'll try to plan for a new strategy.

Goodwin would like her proposed policy to become an ordinance in Royal Oak.  She is also taken this idea to the attorney general.  She thinks it is something the State of Michigan should look at and enact as a law.

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