• Mon. Mar 20th, 2023

Kearney calls for City, County and Lincoln Heights officials to hold public hearing on gun range

Image by Chris Flynn

By Anthony Johnson

Herald Contributor

The first day of school generally is a time for joy, but the children of Lincoln Heights Elementary School walked into school to the sounds of gunshots. “It was heartbreaking to hear this account by a member of the Lincoln Heights community,” stated Cincinnati Councilmember Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney. She filed a motion on September 21 for a public hearing on the City’s gun range that is located in Evendale and abuts Lincoln Heights and Woodlawn. 

The public hearing aims to bring together Cincinnati City Council, Lincoln Heights City Council, the Hamilton County Commissioners, the Cincinnati Police Department, as well as other stakeholders, to discuss the environmental impact of the gun range. Kearney says that she also will reach out to invite the Woodlawn and Evendale officials and communities.

“We will take a hard look at the environmental impact of our gun range in its current location: the lead poisoning issue, the effects of the noise and the psychological effects of living in an environment where children and adults hear constant gunfire,” Kearney said. 

“I understand the importance of having a gun range where our Cincinnati Police Department’s 1,000 members can practice target shooting and where the K-9 units are trained,” says Kearney, “but it must not be located in a residential area. 

“We are harming the neighboring communities, and that must stop. We know that Black and Brown communities are more likely to be victimized by environmental hazards, adding to the higher rates of health problems. The gun range is yet another example. 

“The issue for me is urgency,” said Kearney. “Lincoln Heights has existed since the 1920s, although it was not incorporated until the 1940s, and many of the homes were constructed after the gun range existed. But the issue of who was here first is immaterial. Our gun range creates an environmental hazard for the communities involved and that cannot continue.” 

Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman previously called for reports on several options such as enclosing the gun range and installing HVAC. The price tag was $2.7 million for enclosing the 29-acre gun range. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley stated in Council he is not opposed to moving the gun range.

Kearney states, “Members of City Council are looking for location options and funding sources.”

The city’s Law and Public Safety Committee unanimously approved of moving the range and will present their decision to the full council. Committee Chair Christopher Smitherman said both Mayor John Cranley and Police Chief Eliot Isaac are receptive to moving it. it is a matter of finding a suitable location and costs. “This is our opportunity to have a state-of-the-art shooting range,” he said.