Automatic Rifle

Gun shop owner Tiffany Teasdale-Causer poses for a photo with a Ruger AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

Defense in Depth, the new shooting range opening in Sabraton, will be the first in West Virginia to allow customers to rent and shoot machine guns. Individuals on the membership plan will be allowed "one free machine gun rental" on their birthday, according to its website.

DID will open its "state-of-the-art, $10 million indoor shooting range" on Dec. 1. The range has been in the works for more than a year and has received letters of recommendations — in email format — from both Monongalia County Sheriff Perry Palmer and WVU Chief of Police Bob Roberts.

DID owners, according to Palmer, met with local police to hear their thoughts on the upcoming range. Both Palmer and Roberts approved.

When asked why they chose to endorse the shooting range, Roberts and Palmer agreed that it was a good idea for similar reasons.

"My theory is that if people are going to carry firearms, they need to be trained more than 40 hours," Roberts said. "The 40-hour hunter’s training program is not sufficient, in my opinion."

Palmer agreed, saying the facility will "have safety precautions in place" for those who want "to go out and shoot handguns that you own."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia had 286 deaths by firearms in 2014 and 278 deaths by firearms in 2015. This year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, West Virginia has had more than 300 reported firearm related incidents.

DID officials were unavailable to comment more on the types of atmosphere and perks that will be available within the range.

However, its website features a list of membership benefits, including express lane check-in, one free firearm rental per year rifle or pistol and one free machine gun rental on your birthday.

The website also states that their "firearm rental selection is the best in the state" and "whether you are looking to test a handgun or want to take a turn with our machine guns, we have the best selection in the area. Test it at our facility before pulling the trigger."

The types of machine guns offered for rental are: FN P90, HK MP5, HK MP5K, AK-47 and SCAR 16.

According to West Virginia’s legislature code 61-7-9, it is considered "unlawful" for any person to "carry, transport, or have in his possession" any type of "machine gun, submachine gun or any fully automatic weapon" unless they have fully complied with federal U.S. statutes and other applicable rules.

About DID’s machine gun option, Roberts said, "There are some guns I don’t support, particularly after this [Las] Vegas incident. Bears don’t carry automatic weapons. Deers don’t carry automatic weapons. I have some issues with those, but that’s just a personal thing."