A dispute over the Cincinnati Police Firing Range in The Village of Lincoln Heights has rekindled over the past few months, but talks about changing its location have been in the works for decades.
The Village of Lincoln Heights is located just off I-75 and bordered by Lockland, Woodlawn, and Wyoming. It’s just under one square mile and has a population of roughly 3,300.
Currently, there are no federal zoning laws restricting the development of gun ranges. Generally, gun ranges can only be on commercial property, but there can be special limitations depending on the state.
For example, in Washington state, the cities and towns determine zoning requirements and the state requires businesses selling firearms to be at least 500 feet away from schools. In Illinois, some cities have more restrictions. In Evanston for example, gun ranges are “special use” and can only be located in industrial zones.
The dispute dates back to the 1970s with Lincoln Heights residents reporting constant shooting in the area. Community enthusiast Carlton Collins, the outreach director for Lincoln Heights, and Daronce Daniels, who sits on the village’s council, have recently led the fight to find a workable compromise.
Lincoln Heights proposed that CPD make six changes to the shooting range which includes the following criteria:
- Immediately relocate so residents experience no further harm. This can be a temporary move initially, but the gunfire must be discontinued immediately.
- Studies should be commissioned to determine the economic, environmental, and mental/public health damages that have been inflicted over the past 80 years.
- No negotiations should be held without an examination of harm caused to businesses, development, and the behavioral/mental health challenges of residents.
- Reparations should be provided to the communities that have been harmed.
- Reparations should be provided, at minimum, to Princeton City School District to expand services to its youth from Lincoln Heights.
- The City of Cincinnati and the CPD Fraternal Order of Police should create a series of townhall meetings to discuss the shooting range with community stakeholders.
In response, CPD representatives have stated repeatedly that they are open to negotiations to find a solution, but it will take time. Cincinnati Police say the land was donated to them in the '40s. While the entrance to the property is in Evendale, the gun range butts up to Lincoln Heights.
Daniels, who is also local high school football coach, says most of the complaints have been documented for decades, but next to nothing has been done to solve the issue.
“Growing up in this area, we heard the shots, and you are not really sure what those effects are to you physically and mentally,” he says. “Many people grow up hearing birds chirping in the morning. We woke up hearing gunshots.”
Daniels, who spent most of his formative years in Lincoln Heights, adds that there is evidence to the residents' claims.
“We have been informed by health officials that there is a true correlation with growing up and residing in Lincoln Heights with an increased and a disproportionate rate of Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and disciplinary actions handed out to those students, especially those who reside close to the gun range.”
Collins echoes that call to protect the children.
“For us, it's about the kids, he says. “We don’t believe that our kids should be subjected to the noise of close to 39,000 hours, annually, that go on at this training facility. Until we begin the conversation and unpack some of the harm that has already been done, we will never be able to travel on that path to healing.”