Fatal Shooting Prompts Brownsville Gun Range Owner to Explain Regulations

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BROWNSVILLE – Brownsville police said a man walked into a shooting range on Thursday, rented a handgun, and then turned it on himself.

Range master Javier Espinoza said the man walked in telling employees he was interested in purchasing a gun. He decided to rent one first to try it out, purchased bullets and was assigned a lane.

He met all the requirements necessary then turned the gun on himself.

“You must be 21 years of age, with a valid Texas ID, in order to purchase ammunition for a handgun or rent a handgun. We do allow rentals. If you do have your own equipment, we allow you to bring your own equipment,” he said.

The gun range isn’t required to have a customer do anything other than sign a waiver. Then, they can rent a gun or bring their own.

“There is no federal agency that mandates safety other than OSHA’s requirements. We do coincide with the NRA and we abide by their rules and regulations which is where we get our range rules from,” Espinoza said.

Gun expert and shop owner Brian Guerra said the ATF and FBI closely regulate gun sales and require background checks for gun purchases. There’s no agency regulating a firing range.

“The firearm is not leaving the premises, okay, so if the firearm were to leave the premises and transfer ownership from person to person, then a background check would need to be done. It’s not different than someone coming into my store and wanting to look at a gun, and I hand them that gun so I can look at it,” he said.

Even if a background check was required at a firing range, Guerra said it wouldn’t help detect a person’s mental state.

Espinoza said the man checked off on all the range’s requirements. He believes it was just an incident they couldn’t prevent.

“We afforded every opportunity to be as safe as possible. You just have those instances where you have that once in a lifetime, where everything did not go to plan,” he said.

The range is open for regular business hours. 

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