History of SMPSTF’s commitment to offering gun safety programs to the public
It was October 24, 1964. Edina resident, Dr. Frederic Wippermann and his two sons were on a highly anticipated hunting trip when the worst happened. Twelve-year-old, Brian’s 20- gauge shotgun accidentally discharged, killing him instantly. Amidst their grief, the family resolved to somehow turn this profound tragedy into something positive.
In 1971, with over $50,000 in pledged donations from the Wippermann family and the Edina Optimist’s Club, the Brian Wippermann Memorial Gun Range was opened on a parcel of city-owned property in the corner of Edina – just to the south of where the South Metro Public Safety Training Facility now stands. The donations, which extended over 25 years, were earmarked to educate youngsters in the importance of safe gun handling in an attempt to ensure that other young people and their families, might be prevented from having to endure such a tragedy.
By 1997, when the Brian Wippermann Memorial Gun Range had to close, largely because of environmental concerns, nearly 4000 children had participated in firearms safety programs with many thousands more area residents using the firing ranges to practice safe gun handling through indoor target shooting and outdoor trap shooting.
In 2004, the South Metro Public Safety Training Facility was opened – with the mission to provide a state-of-the-art training environment for area public safety agencies. The facility is jointly owned and operated by the Cities of Edina, Eden Prairie, Bloomington, and by the Metropolitan Airport Commission. Training space and on-site support services are provided for these and many other police and fire agencies throughout the southwest metro area.
The City of Edina’s joint venture with the Wippermann family and the Edina Optimist’s Club may have ended in 1997; however, the Board of Directors governing this facility and the City of Edina Parks and Recreation Department’s determination to honor the spirit of the past arrangement did not. Opportunities are offered for people of all ages to use the firing ranges. In addition, several firearms courses are offered throughout the year, including Introduction to Handguns and Firearms Safety, MN Permit to Carry, an advanced carry course and a women’s self defense course.
The City of Edina is proud to continue honoring the memory of Brian Wippermann, and the South Metro Public Safety Training Facility is grateful to be able to assist in this worthy endeavor.