Gun range near school's outdoor campus close to approval

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. - An outdoor gun range is one step closer to getting permission it needs to operate less than a mile from a school’s outdoor lab, and the move has many up in arms.

Manatee County issued its intent to approve an outdoor gun range just south of State Road 64 near Uihlein Road. It would be just 6 tenths of a mile from the Center Montessori School's outdoor campus, where the school teaches some of its history, zoology, botany classes.

“To put a child into an environment where they are now hearing gunshots I think is extremely detrimental.” Mara Fulk is the school's principal. She says her fear stems from the possibility that the children could hear the gun shots. “Maybe one person shooting a gun we may not hear, but when you talk about 24 to 25 stations of shooting going on, the decibel range of course goes up, and the possibility of us hearing something goes up as well.”

So we reached out to a certified traumatologist to see what, if any, effects the outdoor gun range could have on the children. “Kids overall anxiety about their safety at schools has heightened and has increased with fears. Now putting a gun range that close to a school, and kids hearing gun shots in the area, is bound to have a negative effect on some of those children,” says Dr. Kenneth Fowler.

He says the negative effects could range from depression to increased anxiety, as well as have a negative impact on the child's ability to learn. “It’s going to be hard to get a child to relax and not be fearful that some mean man or mean woman won’t come over from that gun range and start shooting, so I think this is just a bad move at a bad time.”

“It would just make me feel unsafe, and just knowing that they are going to be there is scary,” says student Emma Wilber.

Those who oppose the gun range have until next Wednesday to get their comments to the county for consideration.

The proposed gun range will allow only shotguns.