SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) — The Sheboygan Rifle & Pistol Club has moved its shooting range out of a local middle school after parents raised concerns about exposing students to lead.
The club had an October deadline to either upgrade the range's ventilation system or move out. The shooting range, built and operated by the gun club in conjunction with the school district, has been housed at Urban Middle School since 1955 and has been used by the club and the Community Recreation Department.
Lisa Janeiro, 45, was among the parents who raised concerns about how children were being protected from the range's lead residue.
"We just asked some questions about what safeguards the district had put in place to make sure students and staff in the school weren't being exposed to high concentrations of lead," Janeiro said. "It turned out in the end that generally, people (in the school) were not being exposed but it was likely users of the range, unbeknownst to them, were. Really, the worst part was the district seemed to be unaware of that situation."
After environmental tests in 2007 revealed high levels of lead in the range's air and on surfaces, the club replaced fabric and surfaces and implemented new housekeeping procedures to prevent lead dust from leaving the range.
Gun club president Reed Vanness said the lead issue was being addressed and anti-gun sentiments prompted the move.
"It was politics," Vanness told The Sheboygan Press (http://bit.ly/nBWe8m). "There were a couple people who did not want us in the school. They decided to try to get us on lead contamination. For the last number of years, we cleaned it during the summer and every night after we used it. We passed environmental studies every time. The school board just decided maybe it was time, maybe we didn't belong there."
During a school board meeting earlier this year, Superintendent Joe Sheehan seemed to support Vanness' opinion.
"It's not the lead issue," Sheehan said at the time. "The question is having a facility with firearms on campus."
The club is exploring the possibility of building a 12-lane indoor range at the club headquarters in the Town of Mosel, Vanness said.
Information from: The Sheboygan Press, http://www.sheboygan-press.com