The town of Sauk Rapids (population 13,000 and change) is not a dangerous place.
Just look at the new edition of the Sauk Rapids Herald that was delivered this morning. The top two stories are about a retiring high school football coach and the opening of a "gluten-free storefront"; inside, there's a full-page spread of 4-H kids who will be at the Benton County Fair this August.
In such a tranquil town, even one crime committed can seem like a harbinger of change for the worse. Four crimes, even stretched out over a few months, might look like the whole world's gone to hell.
From February through May, Sauk Rapids saw four robberies (three of them armed) committed. One bar was hit, and three gas stations, with one Shell station targeted twice.
The owner of that station has come up with a "unique" and, apparently, very popular idea of how to deter another robbery: more guns.
Frank Schwagel is offering a 10-cent-a-gallon discount on gas for any law enforcement officer who stops at the Shell station after 7:00 p.m. This makes sense! Cops are the very people entrusted to enforce laws and apprehend criminal suspects.
He's also offering the same discount to any regular Joe who's got a firearm permit. This is... different. Those guys are not entrusted to do much of anything, except not use their guns in public unless absolutely necessary.
The idea has taken off, especially after a supporter posted a photo of the Shell station's discount sign on Facebook. Schwagel says more than 100,000 people have "liked" that photo. Unclear how many of them actually live in Sauk Rapids. It is catching on there, though. Nighttime business is up, and one guy KSTP interviewed this week says it's an "awesome idea."
Schwagel thinks people aren't coming around for the discount, but because they're "frustrated with what's happening around our town."
Added bonus: The thought that everyone might be packing heat will almost certainly bring an end to cutting in line.