SALISBURY — The police chief said he intends to look into procedures at a local shooting range after a Malden woman accidentally shot herself in the wrist there Thursday night.
Police Chief Thomas Fowler said the woman shot herself at Original Bob’s Gun Shop and Shooting Range on Lafayette Road after a shell casing hit her in the chest and startled her.
The private, indoor range gives customers without a gun license a chance to rent a gun, buy ammunition and shoot inside the range as long as they are at least 21 years old, are in a party of two or more, and have a valid ID.
“The interesting part is that they are not required to have any training, an FID card, a license to carry,” Fowler said. “Anyone can walk in there, rent a gun and shoot. (As Thursday night) proved, it could be very dangerous.”
Fowler said a mother and son from Malden went to the shooting range Thursday at about 6:20 p.m. The chief said the woman was shooting her own gun and the son had rented a .22-caliber rifle.
“The mom was shooting her gun when one of the casings came down and hit her in the chest,” Fowler said. “She kind of panicked and turned and shot herself in the (left) wrist.”
Steve Ciaramella, the manager of Bob’s Gun Shop, said the woman was licensed to carry in Massachusetts and had brought her own handgun.
“The individual had a valid Massachusetts gun permit,” he said. “She was using her own firearm and ammunition. It was totally an accident. It was a hot shell. She was shooting down range and no one else was in danger. Unfortunately, she was injured. But I understand she is doing OK and we wish her the best.”
Police responded and the woman was taken to Anna Jaques Hospital, Fowler said.
He also said the son was not actively shooting when the accident occurred. The accident is under investigation and Fowler said his department is consulting with the District Attorney’s Office on whether or not to pursue charges.
In response to questions from The Daily News, Ciaramella elaborated on the shooting range’s policy.
“It’s 21 and older, with proper ID,” he said.
“Anyone with a firearm license can bring someone without a license with them to shoot on the range. The son did not have a license (Thursday) and he was not shooting.”
Although the woman does have a license to carry a firearm in Massachusetts, Thursday’s incident demonstrates the danger of such a shooting range, according to Fowler.
“I see that as a public safety concern,” Fowler said.
“Somebody who could have no experience handling guns can walk into a shooting range and rent a gun. To me that is a dangerous situation. At least, if they required someone to have a license to carry, that guarantees they have at least been through a safety course.”
Fowler said a cursory background check is also made when applying for a license to carry.
“A convicted felon cannot get a license to carry, so we would know the person renting the gun is not a felon,” Fowler said. “So, I might be reaching out to the business and trying to work with them on their policies.”
Thursday’s incident isn’t the first time police have been called out to the shooting range.
A 23-year-old Malden man and a 23-year-old Homestead N.H. woman committed suicide after renting guns at Bob’s in March 2016, prompting the shooting range to alter its rental policy.
In 2013, a 32-year-old Beverly man shot and killed himself after renting a Glock semi-automatic handgun from the shooting range and a 61-year-old Hingham man shot himself to death at Bob’s in 2011.
“A son or daughter, 18 years or older of someone who has a gun license can come in with the parent and use the range,” Ciaramella said.
“There are no laws in Massachusetts that say otherwise.”
Fowler agreed with Ciaramella but said he is still concerned with the range’s rental policy.
“I have nothing against (Bob’s),” Fowler said.
“But, when people with no experience can have access to a gun, I recognize that as a public safety issue.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.