Sometimes, a person shows up at a gun range, checks out a gun ostensibly to use in target practice on the range, but instead uses the gun to commit suicide. In one case not long ago, a woman brought her teenage son to the range, and checked out two pistols. They took turn shooting for a while, then, while he was aiming his firearm at the target, she shot him in the back of the head and then shot herself. So that was murder-suicide. Now and then a person goes to the shooting range, and while shooting end up shooting themselves dead but it is not clear if it was an accident or suicide.

A quick search of google reveals a number of cases like this reported in the news. I’ve put links to and excerpts from a handful of them below. Did you know this was a thing? Apparently it is.

2009 August

CASSELBERRY, Fla. — A central Florida woman who fatally shot her son then killed herself at a shooting range wrote in suicide notes to her boyfriend that she was trying to save her son.
“I’m so sorry,” Marie Moore wrote several times. “I had to send my son to heaven and myself to Hell.” … She signed two of the notes “Failed Queen.”

2010 October

A Weston man shot and killed himself Friday morning at the Arizona Shooting Range in Lauderdale Lakes, leaving behind a suicide note, authorities said.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office identified the victim as a 47-year-old Weston man, but did not release his name.

The suicide occurred at about 10:45 a.m. at 4325 North State Road 7, said Veda Coleman, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

“He shot himself there at the gun range,” Coleman said. “He did leave behind a note.”

2010 November

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A photocopy of a magazine cover about the Columbine school shooting was found among the belongings of Australian twin sisters who shot themselves in a suicide pact at a Colorado shooting range, authorities said Friday.

However, it remained unclear why Kristin and Candice Hermeler, both 29, had the cover of Time headlined “The Monsters Next Door/What Made Them Do It?” and why the sisters made the plan to kill themselves, authorities said. One of the women survived.

2012 February

A 52-year-old Tamarac man killed himself Saturday morning at a Broward shooting range, according to a Broward’s Sheriff’s Office release. When police went to notify his wife at home, they found her dead in a possible murder-suicide.

Police report that the man rented a gun at the Arizona Shooting Range & Emporium in Lauderdale Lakes at 10:18 a.m. He then went into the target-shooting area and shot himself in the head at 10:33 a.m., according to the release.

2012 July

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WTVR)–The owner of The Smoking Gun pistol range didn’t want to appear on TV, but he did want to set the record straight about the suicide inside his business five days ago.

It began with the sound of gunshots inside a shooting range. It’s safe to say it’s common to hear that sound there, but a shot last week still haunts the range owner. “I yelled, ‘Lieutenant!” he said. “’You have five minutes,’ but he didn’t acknowledge me.”… Second Lieutenant James Cho, an Army Reserve officer was dead. The gunshot wound to the head was later determined to be a suicide. The Smoking Gun’s owner says Cho was in a position that he’ll never forget

2012 November

KENT COUNTY, MI – As family of Mark Sobie grieve his death after a self-inflicted gunshot wound last week at a Wyoming shooting range, they question why no laws prevented him from renting a firearm.

A background check, they say, would have shown the 43-year-old’s felony bank robbery conviction, an offense that led him to serve 30 months in federal prison. The criminal record prevents him from purchasing or possessing a gun.


  1. #1 Thadd
    January 17, 2013

    I do like going to the gun range, but I would really like to just see them stop providing firearms. I am not sure if the one near me does, but it seems like the loophole of loopholes for crazies.

  2. #2 jane
    January 17, 2013

    Six cases in four years doesn’t make an epidemic; more people kill themselves with drain cleaner or jumping off buildings. Certainly, it’s not ethical to commit suicide in public and cause trouble for other people. But if you are determined to kill yourself and don’t own a gun, doing it with a rental gun will cause far less harm to others than deliberately getting yourself killed in a traffic “accident” or setting up a good cop to shoot you, both of which are things that people seem to do more than twice a year – and it’s a lot easier on you than the drain cleaner.
    I don’t see what your point is here. Do you mean to suggest that this handful of people would not have killed themselves if we did not have manned shooting ranges that rent guns (which are for many the only way to learn to shoot before buying a gun, as some people think should be a requirement)? These suicides, though sometimes obviously due to mental illness, were considered and preplanned. I would assume that if there had been no gun range, these unhappy people would probably have killed themselves anyway, perhaps by a much messier method. Japan is one of the most disarmed countries on earth and their suicide rate is far higher than ours.

  3. #3 Kevin sanders
    January 17, 2013

    Felons are prohibited from purchasing a firearm. True. What keps them from breaking in and stealing one?

    Background checks are important, but a felon will not walk into a gun store and try to buy a gun. That would be stupid. instead he has multiple options:

    1) steal a gun from a gun owner. Now that we have newspapers listed them all, he has many choices of wehere he can now obtain one.

    2) He can buy from an individual. One individual selling a product to another indivdual is not illegal. Though I agree that the seller should at least know some history on the guy first.

    3) The felon can go into mexico and buy all the guns he wants cheaper than here and simply walk back into the states with them. it’s not like the border is actually guarded or anhthing. Most of the guns in mexico are TRUE assault rifles – full auto – mostly coming from Nicaruago who got them from Russi and Iran. The rest, the Obama administration gave them for free – sort of like the free grenades, machine guns, and should fired missles the CIA gives to terrorists in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. ban guns for american patriots, but give full military hardware to out enemies. Smart, mr. President.Very smart. Makes me wonder if that muslim president conspiracy theory realis a thery or not. Seems like he supports them more than his own people sometimes.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    January 17, 2013

    Kevin, I think we are done with the tired old argument that says “There should be no laws … because CRIMINALS!!!1!”

  5. #5 hobgot
    January 18, 2013

    I’m from Nevada and it is easy to get a gun here. Most of my friends have guns and five of them have died with their own guns. There were two suicides, two accidents and one was murdered by her husband. No one that I know has used one for self defense at home. The thing is, I would say that 99.9% of the time drain cleaners and buildings are used for something useful. The guns in question are only used to kill things,often people. If we need a safe humane way to let people commit suicide I would rather look to Dr. Kevorkian. Japan also has far fewer acts of gun violence against _other_ people and we can also get drugs from south of the border but we actually have laws against that.

    Also, the U.S. still remains the largest gun exporter on the planet.

  6. #6 jane
    January 18, 2013

    hobgot – The number of accidental firearms deaths per year in the U.S. is in the hundreds, in a population of over 300 million people. If two of your friends have accidentally killed themselves with firearms, you have a statistically much dumber or clumsier than average group of friends. And when you claim that their guns “are only used to kill things, often people,” I wonder whether they would agree that that’s a fair assessment, or that using guns to “kill things” in hunting is not a “useful” purpose.

  7. #7 Schitzree
    January 19, 2013

    hobgot – I’ve run into this mem of the US being the largest exporter of guns before. The first time I saw it I knew it coudn’t be true, becouse the number one most common gun in the world is the AK-47 (or a clone) and they arn’t made in the US.
    I went ahead and read the Huffpo article you linked to and right under the pie graph showing how much weapons each country exports (in dollars) it lists the companies that have the highest sales. they were Lockheed Martin, BAE systems, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, and Raytheon.
    These are not gun manufacturers, the make jet fighters, bombers, tanks, APCs, and other war fighting machines. Not only are they not in the business of selling pistols or rifles, but the weapons they do sell, like F22′s and M1A3 Abrams’ can only be sold to the governments that the US governments says they can be sold to.

  8. #8 Artor
    January 20, 2013

    Jane, I’ll concede your point about long rifles & shotguns having a legitimate purpose, but how do you justify assault rifles & handguns? They are specifically designed for easily killing & maiming humans, and nothing else.

  9. #9 Calli Arcale
    January 21, 2013

    Schitzree — you make a very good point about needing to define “gun”. On the other hand, AK-47 being the most popular gun doesn’t necessarily contradict the claim since the most popular thing of any category doesn’t have to represent a majority. Totally off the top of my head and without having figures of any kind, I’d be willing to put money on Russia being the world’s largest arms exporter, though.

  10. #10 jane
    January 21, 2013

    Artor – Not true. Handguns are carried by some people in rural areas as a portable form of defense against dangerous animals. They are also a portable, or at home less cumbersome, form of defense against dangerous humans. Their efficacy for that purpose depends on at least the threat of deadly force, so you can describe that as being “for killing and maiming humans” – however, whether it is acceptable to kill or maim a would-be rapist or murderer is a value judgement on which my mind is pretty well made up.

    As for “assault rifles”, these have been defined by cosmetic features which, as you say, are not necessary for hunting, but also don’t add to the deadliness of the gun. In fact, ironically, primarily military calibers are often underpowered relative to large-game rifles and less likely to kill a human. You see, in warfare killing a soldier removes one man from the battlefield, whereas wounding him removes both him and a couple of others who have to go to his aid and carry him away, so the designers of these weapons consider it desirable to wound as many as possible. For hunting large animals, that’s precisely what you don’t want to do, so such weapons are inferior.

  11. #11 Blah
    February 3, 2013

    AK-47 design is not covered by copyright, anyone in the world can print them up and produce them, that’s why there’s a lot of them. The US is the largest single exporter of firearms, that claim is correct.

  12. #12 Blah
    February 3, 2013

    The data is not at all ambiguous, firearms are definitely a public health hazard that cause far more harm than good, and owning a gun is a really good way to get shot. But there is no point arguing with gun-cultists anymore than you would argue with a creationist (for the most part they are the same people actually). These are people who don’t believe in evidence-based reasoning to begin with and there’s a direct correlation between firearm ownership and lower levels of education and intelligent levels. The best strategy for dealing with people like Jane is to keep donating to gun control groups and pressuring your reps and just ram the legislation down their throat.

  13. #13 Tara
    June 20, 2013

    This is so sad – I wish there was a way to help people who feel this way….depression is such a terrible condition.