After another marathon meeting Monday night, the Inver Grove Heights city council voted against a DNR-sponsored gun safety program on the property of longtime resident Vance Grannis, Jr.
The council first voted against a conditional use permit that would allow the gun safety program to operate on a permanent basis. Mayor George Tourville and councilman Bill Klein voting against it.
Klein then motioned for an interim use permit—one that would allow for a 12-month trial run of the program—which was supported by Tourville but opposed by councilpersons Dennis Madden and Rosemary Piekarski Krech.
As was his obligation, councilman Chip Grannis abstained during all of the voting.
During the public comment phase of the meeting, Vance Grannis, Jr. told the council it was his understanding that State funding for a conservation easement for his 150 acres would be contingent on the existence of the program.
“It has been strongly suggested (in the legislature) that there won’t be any conservation easement funding without this gun safety program,” Grannis said.
But the packed city council chambers was divided between supporters and opposition—one neighbor even providing to the council 190 written petitions against the gun safety program.
“We just don’t think it’s the right place for it to be. We want to explore all the other places it could be,” he said. “My recommendation would be to deny this and see if the funding (for a conservation easement on the property) comes through. If the funding doesn’t come through, then we take another look at it.”
Just prior to the vote, councilman Dennis Madden—who has vehemently supported the program since its inception—made a statement to the audience.
“As a former U.S. Treasury Agent I spent a lot of time on gun ranges. I have a real hard time calling this a range. This is for training. At my age, I may be gone but this training will still be around for these young people to learn how to handle a weapon properly. I think it’s a good idea to teach these young people to respect these weapons and what they can do. It may save lives in the future,” Madden told the audience.
Councilman Bill Klein also made a statement voicing his concern about the safety of the program.
“If we go ahead with this thing, and this is for the Chief (of Police, Larry Stanger), I’d like to see tape on those trails warning people. I’d almost like to see someone with a bullhorn out there once in a while announcing, ‘This is a firing range.’ I am concerned about safety,” Klein said.
The sticking point of the issue, throughout the entire process, was that half of the City Council wanted the ability to revisit and re-evaluate the program after 12 months (i.e. interim use permit) to ensure its safety and relevance.
“In protecting everybody … I think we need to have someone out there once a year checking to make sure kids are hitting those targets. I’m not a doubter but we’re talking about a two-foot target and to say they’ll hit them every time, I don’t know,” Tourville said.
In the end, the council could not agree that a limited term was necessary for the gun safety program. The difference between a permit for interim use versus conditional use (i.e. permanent) ultimately derailed the program.