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When Minnesota’s Lincoln Elementary School was built in 1956, its designers included a gun range in the basement. The range has been in continuous use by students and the local community for almost 60 years — right until unidentified persons raised “safety concerns.” At that point, School Superintendent Brad Johnson closed the basement range and appointed a committee to “investigate.”

“People are more sensitive than they used to be,” said Johnson. “There are concerns from people who are here for activities or events from other towns who are seeing people going down to the rifle range. It’s causing lots of questions and concerns.”

Concerns about range safety? Not likely.

Director Jeff Polcher noted that there have been zero incidents at the gun range in its nearly 60-year existence. He said requiring a safety officer to be in charge of granting access to the gun range could resolve some of the issues.

“Now someone raised a stink literally two weeks ago and now we’re talking about shutting down a landmark of the school district,” Polcher said. “No one has never been injured down there. The perception that guns are harmful is wrong. Guns are a way of life up here.”

At a School Board meeting, Johnson pointed out that “members [of the gun range are] using primary school entrances, which result in them walking through the school with their guns, and that the preferred entrance — through the mudroom — leads gun range users by the locker rooms.” Superintendent Johnson sounds more than a little fed-up with the whole situation.

“We’re not closing the gun range . . . No one said we’re shutting it down and I’m sick of hearing it. As the superintendent, I’m trying to find an amicable solution.”

Whether the narrative promoting “gun free zones” prevails in Hibbing remains to be seen. Watch this space.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

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  1. Here’s one approach to address the complaint:

    Have you ever shot at the range? Have you ever even visited it? No? Then please go away until you know what you’re talking about.

    • Unreasonable ‘fear’ and those who ‘know’ they are right (“I don’t have to use a bomb to know it is evil”) cannot be swayed by logic.

    • The way to deal with this is for the shooters to lean heavily on the elected board members. Take a couple to lunch and make your points informally but very, very firmly. Superintendents serve at the pleasure of the board and it takes only two or three votes to throw a scare into them. Once Brad Johnson understands that the gun-range users mean business and are talking to board members, he’ll most likely have an epiphany which causes him to realize that having a gun range in the school is actually a great idea.

  2. I could see how there would be a security concern with this both good and bad.

    On the flip side, it could provide someone in a position with the capability to react if something ever did happen and as said, what has actually happened that’s worth investigating? It seems moronic and politically driven.

  3. Amicable solution: “pipe down, mind your own business. We’re educating Americans, here. California is the place you ought to be if you are so afraid of guns.”

  4. This is interesting. The older of two High School buildings at my High School in Oregon actually had a range in it’s basement too. It has been there probably from the same time period as this one but it was not in use. We found out about it when my HS physics class went down there to shoot a block of wood with a 22 to measure the velocity of a “speeding bullet”. The physics teacher and the other staff knew about it but the students didn’t at all. I think that class experiment was the only time it was used. The funny part is that the teacher used to shoot the block in the classroom and only moved to the old basement range for “safety”. LOL

  5. “Guns are a way of life up here. ”

    I never liked how there is always this qualifier. Up here. Out here. In the country. These parts.

    As if those who live "up here" are either too stupid to realize they should abandon their ways and join the hoplophobes or that those who live "up here" are special and deserve liberties and rights not afforded to those who do not live "up here."

    When somebody starts telling somebody else how to live their life the response should be clear and concise like: "why don't you go eat shit and die?" Then proceed to ignore that person(s).

    • In all fairness, northern Minnesotans use the term ‘up here’ or ‘up north’ regularly. Usually in reference to people from the twin cities or metropolitans.

    • Boy, are you reading that phrase wrong.

      Spoken in Hibbing, “guns are a way of life up here” merely means “if you people down there don’t understand that guns are just tools that we choose to have and use, and that our Constitution guarantees that we can go on doing so forever, that’s just fine, but if you want to try to interfere with that right, FOAD, city boy.”

      In many ways, Hibbing is as close to the old west as we have left.

  6. The most accommodating amicable solution would be to keep the range open and operating, as it has been safely doing for over half a century, and to politely ask those few with “concerns” to kindly please go and engage in unaccompanied intercourse.

  7. In my high school in Kentucky we also had a “range” in the basement. We would set up bullet traps at the end of the hall and lock the access doors at the down range end. No one was ever injured or complained.
    I’m thinking the best way to address those concerned with the activity is to show them how safe and fun shooting is. Telling them to f themselves as a first response does little to change their minds.

  8. Anyone wanna lay odds the complaining person has a ‘Coexist’ bumper sticker on the bumper of their hybrid?

    Superintendent Johnson needs a sit-down with the pearl-clutchers and educate them on the concept of tolerance and acceptance of others points of view…

    • I love those Coexist stickers that are made out of guns. I couldn’t find one in my local stores, so I have a sticker that says “Love” written in guns and knives on the back window of my truck.

      It actually helped get me out of a speeding ticket and expired registration and into a nice conversation about firearms with two officers. 🙂 They were super wary and tactically sound when they approached — this was two days after the Black Lives Matter terrorist attack in Dallas — but after running my plates and having time to stare at that sticker, they got kind of chatty and friendly. America for the win.


    More made-up angst to solve nothing from the evil (D).

    Same Old: “We’re f’d up, we need to fix you” cr_p.

  10. I would also give extra consideration to sending my son to a school with an active range used for class. It speaks to their competency.

  11. Backhoe and a jackhammer, build a nice secure outside entrance. Problem solved, compromise made, illusion of safety preserved.

  12. My parochial high school in its former location had an indoors 10 point range next to the track. We used it for the rifle team, JROTC, and firearms training camps hust like the football ones in the summer. This setup was not unusual in St. Louis as most of the other Catholic high schools also has a range and rifle teams. In fact my father’s public high school also had a range and rifle team.

    Sadly when the school moved a rifle team and range was not part of the plan, but they now have a volleyball team and a “diversity club”.

  13. It would be reasonable for the person, or persons that complained step forward and explain their position and arguement.

    It’s amazing that one complaint in 60 years will close the range, even on a temporary basis.

    I’m pretty certain that the complainer doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to come forward. It’s much easier to stay in the shadows.

    • From what I read, with the actual complainer not identified, it very much sounds as if the super *is* the complainer, just without enough balls to step up and say so.

  14. Its a bunch of Iron Range Democrats got their Pantie in a bunch , Making problems when there are none just to give the scumbags something to say they did their share about gun Violence, this particular town hasn’t had a gun accident in years or a school shooting! besides with the Iron range rivalries they should worry more about the drunks and beer bottles in the parking lot! most of range users are practicing for Camp Perry, it is a .22 caliber range only, used for hunter safety classes and as mentioned earlier, also its a certain group living in fancy houses next to this school that think they are better than everyone else that are the biggest whiners, they will get their way as the whiners have already paid off the powers that be!

  15. 60 years old ?is it indoor or outdoor ? It may actually have some safety concerns. Haven’t they changed the safety standards for indoor ranges in the last 10 or 20 years do to fire hazards from some types of bullet traps ? Also I bet the ventilation system sucks.

    Look I’m all for schools having ranges. I think an NRA pistol and rifle course should be required courses. I just bet this one needs some TLC.

  16. I doubt I would send my kid to a school with a range buillt that long ago in the basement. I would bet the lead levels are high. Lead poisoning is a real thing.

  17. As cafb noted the only real “concerns” are probably environmental, and considering the longevity of the range without any “cluster” issues those are minimal. But it shouldn’t break the budget to add some air quality improvements to keep this community resource open and active ! Its probably long past time the local “progressive elites” , learned they aren’t the “social mediators” for every community they move into .

  18. The only thing I remember about the basement in our school was me and Marlene! I guess you could consider that a sort of “shooting” range! ( Heh, Heh, Heh…..)

    Of course you can trust the Government! Just ask any Indian! No Hillary!, the REAL Indians.


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