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Shooting Range Stops Renting Guns

December 15, 2000

BELLEVUE, Wash. (AP) _ A suburban Seattle shooting range has stopped renting guns to people who come alone after two customers committed suicide within five days.

Wade’s Eastside Gun Shop in Bellevue, Wash., will allow customers to come alone to target shoot with their own guns, but anyone wanting to rent a gun must bring a companion.

The change in policy comes after the suicides of Georg Frey, of Issaquah, and Christina Rose, of Kirkland, who each rented a handgun at the range before killing themselves.

Frey, 49, took a rented gun into a restroom on Dec. 1 and shot himself in the chest. Days earlier, a group of unhappy investors had confronted him about real estate deals in which he was involved.

Rose rented a gun from the shop on Dec. 6 and answered ``yes″ when asked if she had shooting experience, though employees told police she seemed nervous and uncomfortable. A little while later an employee found her in a pool of blood on the floor of the range. A friend, Rafael Sanchez, said she had a history of depression, anxiety and suicide threats.

Owner Wade Gaughran declined comment to the Eastside Journal and did not return a telephone call to The Associated Press Thursday. But an employee who declined to be identified said Thursday the shop no longer rents to lone shooters. Renters must also be at least 21 years old with some stated shooting experience.

There have been at least 16 similar gun-rental suicides across western states in the last five years, the Eastside Journal reported.

But members of the commercial shooting range industry say suicides are rare and most gun ranges are safe.

``It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to identify a potential suicide,″ said Rick Patterson, spokesman for the National Association of Shooting Ranges. But he said that most ranges are safe and successful at setting their own rules.

``We think the fact that virtually anyone can go to a range and rent a gun on the spot is a loophole in the law,″ said Washington Ceasefire Director Bruce Gryniewski. ``We’re looking into what can be done on a legislative level.″

The suicides were the second and third at the range since 1997, when a Seattle man fatally shot himself. Police said Eric T. Kim was upset after finding out he wouldn’t graduate from the University of Washington on time.