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Pennsylvania gun range manager says he’s learned to spot suicidal customers

After two recent suicides at a nearby range, Firing Line manager Ken LeVan says he keeps his eyes and ears open.
By Evan Bleier   |   Oct. 28, 2013 at 1:04 PM  |  Updated Oct. 28, 2013 at 1:38 PM   |   Comments

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(UPI) -- Pennsylvania gun range manager Ken LeVan said that he’s learned to read people's body movements and attitudes during his 20 years on the job, a skill that he claims has allowed him to spot potentially suicidal customers.

He has refused to serve customers from time to time at the Firing Line because sometimes "it didn't feel right." He once turned away a man because of his nervous pacing. "He was soaking wet from perspiration," LeVan said.

The man also wasn’t very talkative, which LeVan said was a "dead giveaway that he was going to do something silly."

At nearby shooting range The Heritage Guild, two 54-year-old men have used guns to commit suicide since April.

Millions of people go to gun ranges each year and the suicide rate is fairly small. The Firing Line hasn't had any incidents in the 28 years it's been open.

Gun range employees face a tough situation because there is "rarely any way of knowing” if a person is suicidal, said National Shooting Sports Foundation spokesman Mike Bazinet.

"There are, from time to time, incidents of this sort at gun ranges but they're very rare," Bazinet said. "It's one of these rare tragedies."

LeVan's ability to spot suicidal customers might be less effective than the two to three police officers in the range at any given time. "We have lots of cops here," LeVan said.

But LeVan has learned that communication is key in identifying potentially dangerous people. "By talking to them for 25 minutes, you really get to know their mentality."

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