US: Felons allowed: Firing ranges not required to do background checks - - PressFrom - US
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US Felons allowed: Firing ranges not required to do background checks

20:35  03 december  2019
20:35  03 december  2019 Source:   dispatch.com

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In the months before he shot and killed two Westerville police officers, Quentin Smith had practiced his aim at a New Albany firing range.

a bunch of different graffiti on a wall: A “wall of shame” at L.E.P.D. Firing Range shows those who have been caught breaking the law while using the range. The wall includes a man convicted of supporting terrorism, a convicted illegal firearms dealer and other felons who have used a gun illegally. [Bethany Bruner/ Dispatch]© Bethany Bruner/ Dispatch/The Columbus Dispatch/TNS A “wall of shame” at L.E.P.D. Firing Range shows those who have been caught breaking the law while using the range. The wall includes a man convicted of supporting terrorism, a convicted illegal firearms dealer and other felons who have used a gun illegally. [Bethany Bruner/ Dispatch]

Smith was a convicted felon, which made it illegal for him to own or possess a firearm. Yet he had access to the gun range and carried protective eyewear and shooting targets in the trunk of his car.

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The jury that convicted Smith of killing officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli also heard testimony about a boastful comment Smith made while in jail awaiting trial about his "surgical" precision with firearms.

A review by The Dispatch found there are no federal or state laws or regulations requiring firing ranges to do background checks on those who patronize those businesses.

Federal and state firearm laws require background checks when a gun is purchased through a licensed firearms dealer. But there is no available way — except an unofficial Internet search — to run a background check on someone who is looking to rent a firearm at a range or who brings their own firearm to shoot.

This photo, presented as evidence at Quentin Smith’s capital murder trial in Franklin County, shows practice targets and protective eyewear Smith is believed to have used while at a New Albany area firing range. [Photo provided by Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office]© Photo provided by Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office/Dispatch/The Columbus Dispatch/TNS This photo, presented as evidence at Quentin Smith’s capital murder trial in Franklin County, shows practice targets and protective eyewear Smith is believed to have used while at a New Albany area firing range. [Photo provided by Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office]

And according to one gun range owner, that's something that can't be easily fixed.

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"Most people who are shooting, unless it was state law, they wouldn't go for that," Eric Delbert, co-owner of L.E.P.D. firing range on the Northwest Side, said of background checks before using a range.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien, who led the prosecution of Smith, said requiring a background check to shoot at a firing range likely wouldn't make a large difference to those wanting to target shoot.

"If they can't do that, all they need to do is find somebody with a farm and go out on the back 40 and line up some cans to shoot at or shoot at the trees," he said. "My observation, and I may not be able to prove it, is felons don't usually go (to firing ranges) because they might get detected."

AimHi Family Firearms Center, the firing range in New Albany where Smith took target practice is similar to every firing range in that they require anyone who will be shooting to fill out a liability waiver, according to information presented at his trial,

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The waiver includes questions about felony offenses and convictions, misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, addiction, restraining orders and being barred from possessing a firearm. The participant is required to check a box saying they are not barred from handling or shooting firearms.

Karen Marvin, vice president at AimHi, said according to the business's records, Smith only visited the range once. The card in his wallet is issued to every person who comes to the business, watches the required safety video and signs the waiver.

And while AimHi was the firing range Smith frequented, Delbert said it could have happened at any range. He said he checked L.E.P.D.'s membership lists when he learned Smith had a membership at a range.

"There's nothing preventing it from happening here," he said.

Delbert said those who operate firing ranges are relying on the honesty of those coming to the range. And while there are instances where someone has been caught in possession of a firearm illegally at L.E.P.D., Delbert said an instance like what occurred with Smith could occur at any gun range.

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He cited a case from 2015 when Abdirahman Mohamud, now 27, was arrested and charged with providing material support to a terror organization. Delbert said Mohamud had come to L.E.P.D. with a group of friends, most of whom did not speak much English, and demanded to train them himself.

"There were tell-tale things that didn't seem right," Delbert said.

The range contacted authorities, who were aware of Mohamud, and further investigation led to the Somalia native's arrest. Mohamud was eventually sentenced to 22 years in prison.

"The only reason they usually get caught is criminals do stupid things," Delbert said.

In another instance, Delbert said, a man was caught after being observed by those working at L.E.P.D. wiping his fingerprints off the bullets he was using before loading them into his handgun.

Dean Rieck, executive director of Buckeye Firearms Association, said having regulations regarding firing range background checks is headed down a road that could become ridiculous, such as requiring background checks to subscribe to firearms-related publications.

"It's an unusual circumstance," Rieck said. "It would discourage people from going to a proper, well-organized shooting range. You would end up with the worst results."

State Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-Cincinnati, has been an advocate for firearm legislation and increased background checks. He said having a discussion surrounding background checks at firing ranges would be worthwhile.

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"If I introduced a bill that anyone who applies for a membership at a firing range must go through a background check, it would generate discussion but it won't go anywhere," Thomas said. "It's shocking to me to hear that this individual — who was obviously under [court order to not possess a firearm] — would be able to go into a firing range and perfect his ability and he turns around and kills two police officers. I think there needs to be some discussion around that scenario."

Thomas, who is a former law enforcement officer for Cincinnati police, said any regulations would have to be mindful of the business owners and their ability to operate.

bbruner@dispatch.com

@bethany_bruner

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Police arrest man suspected of firing gunshots .
KALAMAZOO, MI – Police early Tuesday, Dec. 9, arrested a man suspected of firing gunshots on Pierce Avenue near South Rose Street. Kalamazoo police responded to a report of gunshots around 10:45 p.m. Monday in the 200 block of Pierce Avenue. Police found several casings in the road.No victim was found.A resident reported a white car fleeing the scene after shots were fired. After interviewing those at the scene, police identified a suspect.Around 1:15 a.m., Kalamazoo County sheriff’s deputies found the suspect in the 4900 block of Sprinkle Road. He was arrested without incident.

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