On May 5th, 2023, around 2 p.m., 25-year-old Amber Nicole Herring visited LoneStar Handgun Shooting Range. She reportedly said she was considering a gun purchase, but wanted to try some firearms first. Ms. Herring filled out a safety form, gave an ID, and paid cash to rent a handgun. Moments later she returned and said that she wanted to rent a fully automatic Heckler & Koch MP5. The employee gave the MP5 to Ms. Herring, who then proceeded to leave the store and head to the parking lot to a waiting vehicle. At the time the license plate from the white Ford Ranger could not be identified, as the tailgate was obscuring it.
By Monday the 8th, Ms. Herring was taken into custody by Bear County deputies. She is still a guest of the Bear County Sheriff’s Dept. She faces charges that include theft of a firearm and possession of a machine gun. Her bond has been set at $30,000. At the time of this writing, the MP5 sub-machine gun is still missing.
Lonestar Handgun Range is located northeast of San Antonio situated just outside Converse TX. Looking at aerial maps, it is at the end of a long dirt road out in the county by itself situated among farmland. According to their website LoneStar Handgun Range is San Antonio’s largest shooting range, and that you should not mess with Texas. They are situated on 130 acres with over 85 shooting stalls! Their reviews indicate 4.54 stars with over 1200 reviews! As someone who has managed gun stores, ranges, and their employees for years, I have to ask: WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? Here’s what I think went wrong.
More Red Flags Than a Beijing Parade
First, the perp’s parking job. When Ms. Herring drove into the property, she parked away from the main building away from cameras. This is always a huge red flag, and it makes me wonder why there were so many blind spots in camera coverage.
Once inside, Ms. Herring employed the old technique of keeping her head down and covered from the cameras with a hat. Having worked loss prevention before and watching people on cameras, I’ve learned that people who are nervous and actively avoiding attention usually draw attention to themselves with their behavior. It’s just something that you learn over time from watching crowds shop and interact.
At my range of employment, even during COVID we required that customers remove hats and masks, then look into the eye-level camera to get a nice picture. Masks are a no-go. In gun stores, only bandits wear masks. Anyone who objected, that was their right … as was ours to deny service.
Here’s a huge red flag: Ms. Herring was said to have wanted to rent a pistol because she wanted to buy a pistol for self-defense. What is weird is that she rented the semi-auto pistol, walked out of the front door, turned around and then wanted to exchange for the “Full Auto MP5.” Civilians can’t own that type of weapon unless they have a cool $50K lying around for a transferable version. It’s a really advanced firearm for a new shooter, and it’s really not suitable for civilian self-defense.
Even if she were renting that full-auto for fun:
There are ranges in America where renting full-auto firearms for a few minutes is the entire draw. These ranges cater to tourists from places where gun ownership is heavily restricted. These tourists come in and pay a large amount of money to shoot a machine gun for a couple seconds. That said, every range I have ever visited that rents full auto firearms ensures those Class III firearms are never out of view of an employee. Furthermore, the only place the customer can even handle the firearm is the firing line. Once there, an employee will give a quick safety brief and any relevant info about that specific firearm. The employee will load and make the firearm ready and on safe. Only then will the customer be allowed to pick up the firearm and aim downrange.
It is basically a miracle that Lodestar has not had other thefts.
The way the range is laid out, you walk into the main store building. You rent your full auto firearm. Then they hand over the gun and instruct the customer to leave the building with the firearm in hand. The customer then walks out to the customer parking lot, which is not secured, to the 130-acre range. The guns do have trigger locks that the customer has to get a range officer to remove once on the lane … but if the bad guys can get it off the property, they’ll have all the time in the world to remove the lock. Why not attach some gps trackers like Apple AirTags where employees could actively track the location of high-value items?
It seems there was also a lack of communication between the rental counter and the actual range officers. The owner admitted that it took several hours for them to even notice the machine gun was missing. They just handed a random customer a full auto machine gun, magazines, and ammo, and didn’t bother to follow up, or even tell the range that a machine gun was on the way? Hours later, Ms. Herring was long gone and the machine gun was no longer in her possession.
All of this could still be overcome by selecting great employees and training them in proper procedure. Apparently the counter clerk allowed Ms. Herring to use untraceable cash instead of a credit/debit card. Using the card would have alerted the employee that the name did not match the driver’s license and acted as a secondary form of ID. Don’t accept preloaded cards; the card must match the ID of someone in the party. In this case cash is not king. Ms. Herring was using an ID from someone who died in a car crash back in December 2022.
I hate that this happened, and I hate that it was preventable. I also hate that the store is continuing with it’s joking attitude when something so serious happened just days ago. Unfortunately even though this store is almost a thousand miles away from me, the repercussions from this theft will certainly impact the firearms industry nationwide. Thefts from gun stores happen all the time, but usually they are smash and grabs and don’t involve class 3 NFA items. Ms. Herring should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
–James the “XDMAN” Nicholas Mr. UnPewfessional Himself.
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