When North Atlanta High School in Georgia opened its doors on Wednesday, students were greeted by a number of unusual features: a 900-car parking deck, a broadcast and video center, and an indoor shooting range.
The high school recently switched locations at a cost of $147 million, making it the most expensive public high school ever built in Georgia, according to The New York Times. While the 11-story school offers state-of-the-art facilities, the specific decision to put in the shooting range, which will be used by the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program and the rifle team, has elicited media attention and some parental concern.
"I'll probably question it a little bit just to get a better idea," said parent Donna Jones, according to local outlet WSB-TV. "Like I said, I didn't understand why they're going to be doing that, but I think they're going to be very careful in protecting the students."
Others are confident that the shooting range will be safe. "I can see why they would be concerned, but I know they go through lots of training and they're heavily supervised," high school senior Turner Hume told WSB-TV.
A school spokesperson told the TV station that the students will be provided with premier safety gear and will use compressed-air pellet rifles.
High school rifle teams were once relatively common across the country, but have declined in recent decades. They have not disappeared, however. The North Atlanta range is modeled after one at another local high school.
On the Facebook page for Florida's CBS 12, many commenters reacted positively to the news of the school's shooting range.
"Great idea. Let's start teaching children the proper and responsible way of handling a fire arm," wrote Sharon Peacock.
The gun range is just one feature in a facility that The New York Times suggested was the “Taj Mahal” of Southern high schools. It opens amid a larger national debate about guns in school. After the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December, a number of schools throughout the country are allowing teachers and guards to carry guns.