Florida gun range chain bans renting guns

CREATED Jan. 13, 2014

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - Florida's largest independent gun shop chain has stopped renting guns at its eight locations across the state.

Shoot Straight, which has a location in Fort Myers, made the decision at the end of last year after a growing number of suicides at gun ranges.

In November, a man shot himself to death inside Shoot Straight's Pinellas Park range. Less than a year before that, a man fatally shot himself at a Tampa branch.

Fox 4 reached out to the chain's headquarters in Apopka, but they didn't want to comment.

Shoot Straight's founder told the Orlando Sentinel last week, "We've had enough. [Suicides] have been increasing real fast and one common denominator: every one is done with a rental gun."

"It's a valuable part of the industry. It's something that people need to do before they buy a firearm.

You need to try something before you buy something," Jon Dezendorf, the manager at Fowler Firearms, said.

Fowler Firearms is now the only Lee County public range that rents guns. They say about 50% of their customers rent them.

"It's a part of the firearm industry.
For someone to want to come in and spend a part of their paycheck on their firearm, you have to know if you even want one. To know that, you have to try that firearm first," Dezendorf said.
Shooter Michael George rents guns at the range. He is in the market to buy a gun and wants to make sure he's making the best choice.
"You come and try out the guns you want, what feels right for you, what you feel comfortable with, then you can purchase that gun or a gun like it," George said.
And even though gun ranges don't background check shooters who rent guns, Fowler Firearms says rentals are safe.
"People can rent vehicles and go ahead and get in an accident with a vehicle, kill themselves, hurt other people. It's not the actual tool, it's the person behind it," Dezendorf said.