I’ve covered Second Amendment issues, including defensive uses of a firearm, on a full-time basis for almost 17 years now, and while I’ve seen more than a few armed citizen stories involving owners or employees of gun stores who’ve used their firearms in self-defense while on the job, this is the first defensive gun use at a gun range that I can recall.
Pennsylvania state troopers say a man opened fire on his friend at a state-owned gun range in Greene Township on Tuesday, striking him several times before another range-goer intervened, shooting and killing the original attacker.
Police say an investigation revealed that Robert Eppley was shooting downrange before he turned and started shooting at a 28-year-old man from Erie.
Police say a 67-year-old Erie man allegedly saw what was happening and opened fire on Eppley, who was shot multiple times and died at the scene. Officials say the 28-year-old man is being treated for multiple gunshot wounds at a hospital, and the 67-year-old man was taken into custody for questioning. He was later released
His name and the name of the wounded man weren’t released. No charges were immediately announced.
I can’t imagine that the 67-year old is going to be facing any charges here. He not only saved the 28-year old’s life by stopping the attack, but potentially others as well. Police say that not only were the two friends at the range, but they had their girlfriends with them too. The couples had apparently driven separately to the range, and so far, anyway, no eyewitnesses have described any argument or confrontation beforehand.
We don’t know what Eppley’s motivation was, so it’s possible he would have stopped after killing his friend. It’s also quite possible he would have tried to take the lives of others as well. The 67-year old who watched Eppely turn on his friend after firing five rounds down range didn’t freeze up or run away. He saw the threat to human life and eliminated it. If Gov. Tom Wolf wasn’t such an anti-gun dingus he’d give this man a medal, but he’ll likely just ignore this story or even use it as an excuse to call for more gun control laws in the state.
Thankfully the man Eppley shot is already out of the hospital and is expected to fully recover, though I’m sure that for all four individuals it’s going to take a long time to truly get over what happened on Tuesday. It’s a tragic situation, but not nearly as tragic as it could have been, thanks to the presence of mind, quick reaction, and marksmanship of the 67-year old life-saver.