MN Police Face Challenges as New Law Opens Station Ranges to the Public

Minnesota police will have a hard time obeying a new law that will require them to open their shooting ranges to youths attempting to finish firearms training.

Governor Mark Dayton responded to the growing need for shooting ranges by signing a bill into law that opens up the vast majority of Minnesota’s publicly owned shooting ranges to certain members of the public, and that includes police ranges. The law will let young adults going through firearm training use public ranges for four days out of the year, two days in spring and two in summer.

We get what Dayton was trying to do here. A growing number of young men and women are trying to finish their certified arms training course, and they don’t have anyplace to go and finish the tests. Besides, there’s virtually no better instructor for gun safety than a veteran police officer. It makes sense to open up police shooting ranges to them, right? Eh, not so much.

Police shooting ranges were generally designed for, well, the police. Who else? The builders never expected them to be open to the public, so they don’t offer the same shooting environment as other ranges. Police Chief Mike Goldstein describes his station’s range as a “small, intimate environment.”

That’s just a minor concern, of course, but the bigger issues come with all of the logistics. Where’s the money going to come from to pay the police to oversee the lessons? Isn’t their time much better spent out stopping crimes? What happens when something goes wrong and somebody gets hurt? How’re they going to install handicap access, which is typically required for public buildings? 

Dayton’s new bill may have made it easier for young gun owners, but it’s going to be a real headache for Minnesota police.

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