DONEGAL, Pa. (AP) - The 99 signs he has posted throughout the region - each including a phone number, the silhouette of a Rambo-style M60 machine gun and an advertisement for “Washington County Machine Gun Rentals” - has generated many a phone call to Tredd Barton.
Some people are angry. Others are curious. Yet others are amazed over the opportunity to fire a fully automatic machine gun - an MP5, Tommy Gun, AK-47, or M16, among many others - for a price.
Barton calmly answers the phone and sometimes encounters less than calm questions about his operations. He explains that machine-gun rentals are very much different from renting a floor sander or post digger. In that sense, the sign is a bit deceiving.
The fact is, he owns and operates Washington County Machine Guns LLC and Tactical Range - a machine-gun shooting range - in Donegal, near West Alexander in western Washington County. He said he is one of the largest, and possibly the largest, machine-gun rental business in the eastern United States.
“We do occasionally get phone calls from concerned persons,” Barton said.
No machine gun ever leaves his facility, which is situated behind a locked fence. You must be 16 or older to fire a machine gun at his facility or set foot on his property. Those details alone typically cause anger to subside while piquing curiosity, he said.
“Rental” means paying $145 (what Barton describes as a real bargain) for shooting a package of three guns - each with a five practice rounds and 30 rounds per clip - on his shooting range.
Rentals include the gun, range time, eye-and-ear protection, targets and one-on-one instruction for each person. Ammunition magazines include 30 rounds. But the person initially fires five rounds to get a feel for controlling the machine gun.
“Our main business comes from bachelor parties and corporate events,” he said, with three such events last week. “It’s an experience of shooting a machine gun. That’s what it’s all about. That is what we sell.”...When the machine guns aren’t in use, he said, they are stored inside a vault at a different location.Guns long have been the focus of American controversy, so the idea that anyone 16 or older can rent a machine gun may seem startling and even alarming. Without additional information, his signs raise questions and prompt investigatory phone calls.But his operation is fully legal. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirms that Barton has an “07” license. Nationwide, the ATF issued about 12,000 such licenses in 2017 and 375 in Pennsylvania.Barton said the annual costs for his license is $2,850, which allows him to buy and sell weaponry including machine guns through the National Firearms Act. He also can manufacture