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City Council Shoots Down DNR Gun Safety Program

In the end, the council could not agree that a limited term was necessary for the gun safety program.

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.

Diane Baum August 14, 2012 at 03:01 PM
As a resident of IGH, I feel sad for the ones who fought for this conservation program. I think about the kids in places such as Minneapolis...who, if they had something like this, may learn to appreciate people and things better than just having the run of the streets, doing harm to all they come into contact with. Oh there are some who say this is a pipe dream...but to teach responsibility...it has to come from somewhere...am I right? And IGH dropped the ball on it....
Brian Trask August 14, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Gun safety is very important for any kid that may go hunting, shoot a firearm, or just be around a firearm in general. I don't think anybody on either side of the issue could argue that. However, the location of the proposed range is not very safe. Putting a gun range near a residential area puts a lot of people at risk.
Jeff Roberts (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Personal responsibility is a very important value to teach youngsters, Diane. Yours is a good point. I do want to mention that there is still a possibility for Mr. Grannis to get his conservation easement—he'd just get it without a gun safety program. Nothing is set in stone yet. IGH residents that support Mr. Grannis's conservation initiative may want to keep their fingers crossed that it happens that way.
Jeff Roberts (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 06:09 PM
This is the exact point that many people made at the meeting, Brian. Well said. One commenter asked rhetorically "Where else in Minnesota do you see a gun range in a residential area?" While many folks have gone to great lengths to make sure the phrase "gun range" isn't used, it is still an area where firearms are discharged. Just my two cents.
Vikki Leigh Hancock August 14, 2012 at 06:42 PM
I am against the gun range being in a residential area and am hoping Mr. Grannis gets the conservation easement for his property. We need the prairie land a lot more than a place to shoot guns. I thought parents taught their kids gun safety if they took them hunting with them when I was growing up.
Al Tate August 14, 2012 at 07:27 PM
This is a gutless move by the entire city council. I am embarrassed by everyone except Mr. Madden. The worst part is the control over this they wanted. I am ashamed these are our city leaders and other than Madden, will push for new city leadership in the next election. We need to wipe the slate clean and bring in new, fresh leaders instead of the same old windbags who do nothing but hold the city back.
Leah August 15, 2012 at 12:38 AM
No worries--you can vote for Madden for County Commissioner this fall. He will add the their interesting mix!!
Leah August 15, 2012 at 12:43 AM
And this would do exacting what for the City of Inver Grove Heights?
Diane Baum August 15, 2012 at 01:48 AM
I have two words for you all: Bill Klein. Klein has been on the council WAYYYYY too long and shoots down so many things that can be for the good of our city. I agree whole heartedly---anyone on that council more than two years, your time is up! And I will do my part to make that happen!
Al Tate August 15, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Diane B, I tend to agree with you, Klein is the biggest windbag of them all. How he continually wins I will never know. People of IGH wake up, we need new leadership and Klein should be the first to go
Mike Francis August 18, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Klein provides the best entertainment. He should have his own "reality TV show" I think he's a little out of touch with his comments about walking around with a loud speaker telling residents that the shooting is about to begin. Think about it. 6 days per year, they will try and teach kids the proper way to handle and shoot a long barrel gun. The total amount of time per year there will be live ammo in the barrel is under 3 hours. Each student will have 1on1 oversight by a trained safety official and those officials handle the bullets prior to any shooting. The hill they are shooting at is more than 5 stories tall. This vote should have passed. The mayor probably doesn't like the County coming into his territory and Klein likes the County so much, he's running for commissioner. More interesting "reality TV" to come. Kids are the big losers here. There's much more to this proposed plan than shooting guns 3 hours per year.
Kari August 18, 2012 at 10:21 PM
However, the bullets they are using are going to be lead, which isn't good for the environment. Plus how would you like it if you were told you couldn't go on your own property? If it's so safe, why do you have to stay indoors? Also, the "5 story building" is at an incline, due to the fact that it's a hill and it's not a exactly perpendicular to the ground. Think about that. But he would make for a good "reality TV" show.
Liz Niemioja August 24, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Thankfully, the City Council woke up and will be reconsidering this issue on August 27. As there is a bullet catcher, the lead is a non-issue. The number of residents near the Ft. Snelling DNR safety course is very high, and there continue to be no shooting accidents. There has NEVER been an accident at a MN DNR safety course (I also can't imagine with the new, incredibly small, quiet, short-range bullets that there is any greater likelihood of an accident here). If it gives Vance Grannis Jr. a better shot at getting the easement, it is simply ridiculous to deny him, and I will vote and encourage EVERYONE to vote against those on the council too short-sighted to look ahead (nice comment about the City/County turf battle. Very true).
jaw August 24, 2012 at 09:45 PM
The Mayor, City Council and the School Board should all be voted out and change for a lot of reasons but very few pay attention to local politics. Taxes and intrusion are the biggest, the good old boy network needs to be voted out....Dakota County has not raised property taxes in 8 years, Inver Grove Heights can't stop. They wont cut back like the rest of the world because every employee is a friend or relative. Tourville,Dayton, Atkins, Klobuchar to mention a few....If you believe they can live your life better than you..Vote for them.. Bought license tabs lately? Keeps 4 state workers watching one contract laborer putting a shovel full of tar in a pot hole....vote for them (IGH Same philosophy) Don't like salt or more than 16oz's of soda and not intelligent enough to decide for yourself....vote for them (IGH same philosophy) Want to continue to pay more taxes for teachers that don't have to work because they cannot be fired......Vote for them (IGH same philosophy) Million dollar cafeterias, marquee signs, but no gas for buses....vote for them (IGH same philosophy) Pay attention to State and Local elections...Vote informed, not for a smile in a parade..

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