Thursday, May 23, 2024

The gunshots rang out at 8:13 a.m., echoing across the high school football field and middle school garden. They continued for 49 minutes without interruption: an AR-15-style rifle, with .223-caliber bullets, ripping at 94 decibels through a community that did not even pause to wonder if a disaster was unfolding at the schools. It was just a typical morning in Cranston, R.I., where more than 2,000 children attend school within 500 yards of a police shooting range. There, local police officers sharpen their gun skills, sometimes until 8:30 at night. Some days they shoot Glock pistols, like the weapons used in the mass shootings at Virginia Tech, the Charleston church and Thousand Oaks, Calif. Other days, they use AR-15-style semiautomatic rifles, similar to the ones used in the killings in Newtown, Conn.; Las Vegas; Parkland, Fla.; Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas. Many parents have tried in vain to have the range moved to a more remote area or enclosed to block out the upsetting sounds. They have written letters in support of a bill in the state legislature that would prohibit outdoor shooting ranges within a mile of schools. But the police opposed the legislation, and the bill is now being “held for further study.” “This facility is necessary to train and qualify all department members with the weapons they carry to fulfill the mission of protecting the public,” said Col. Michael Winquist, the chief of police.

Excessive noise — even generally — is disruptive to the health and well-being of children, research shows, and medical experts say the sound of gunfire, which could elicit a fight-or-flight response, may be even worse. “I remember thinking, ‘We shouldn’t be getting used to this,’” said Valentina Pasquariello, who graduated in June. “But it was at the point where you have to get used to it — you don’t have a choice.” Afternoon: Football Practice

One morning last month, the first blasts of the day came as Maranda Carline, 17, a high school junior, was in first-period psychology class, snacking on Skittles and learning about how childhood trauma can affect a person’s long-term development. The sound of 50 rounds barraged Miranda again as she walked outside to her next class at 9:01 a.m.; another 50 came at 10:56 a.m., as she rushed to finish an essay on prohibition for her history midterm. “I remember thinking, ‘We shouldn’t be getting used to this,'” said Valentina Pasquariello, who graduated in June. “But it was at the point where you have to get used to it — you don’t have a choice.”

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