Gun safety advocates call for tougher Minnesota laws, though political action seems unlikely – WCCO

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (WCCO) – Gun safety advocates returned to the Capitol in person Wednesday for the first time since the pandemic began two years ago to urge the Minnesota Legislature to expand background checks for all gun sales. firearms and to endorse “red flag” laws.

But this year’s outcome will likely be similar to previous years: proposals will stagnate.

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“There’s a lot going on in the world, we certainly recognize that,” said Molly Leutz, state manager for Moms Demand Action, an advocacy group founded in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. “It’s time to stop putting people who are dying on the backburner. It’s frustrating.”

There have been no hearings on the legislation so far this year, as a deadline approaches next week. Two years ago, the DFL-controlled Minnesota House approved both a background check bill and a gun control measure that would allow courts to issue a temporary order removing firearms of a person likely to harm others or themselves – a “red flag law”. ”

Shared control of the capital between Republicans and Democrats complicates the outlook, though gun rights advocates haven’t seen their bills move either.

Rob Doar, senior vice president of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, said he wants a bill to pass that clarifies Minnesota’s self-defense laws, such as “hold your ground” laws. states have approved elsewhere.

“That’s what’s kind of confusing and frustrating for us is that the GOP message from the Senate has been very strong on public safety and, you know, stopping crime, and this bill will well with that purpose and that narrative,” Doar said of the lack of legislative action.

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Members of Moms Demand Action on the steps of the State Capitol (Credit: CBS)

Inaction on gun legislation, whatever it is, can be embroiled in election-year politics, said David Schultz, professor of political science at Hamline University. Every seat in the legislature is up for grabs and the balance of power is at stake.

“In a very strange way, both sides could adopt a risk-averse strategy,” he said. “Every vote that someone takes who is running for re-election – they are looking over their shoulder in terms of how that vote might affect their electoral prospects.”

Redistricting this year changed Minnesota’s political boundaries, including those of legislative districts. Schultz pointed to different segments of the electorate — those who live in the suburbs compared to Greater Minnesota, for example — who may have different and strong opinions about guns.

“I think what worries a lot of legislators this year is: are there particular types of votes or questions that, if they were to hold a hearing on this, if they were to vote at about it, how it would hurt them in terms of their party,” he said.

But elections aside, Republicans and Democrats have divisions over gun policy. At a forum with Gov. Tim Walz and legislative leaders in early February — just a day after a shooting outside a Richfield high school — Walz said he would “welcome the conversation and certainly sign legislation.” with provisions that “have been shown to reduce gun violence.” He said he supports the red flag laws.

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Shortly after, Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, closed the door on that effort in the Senate: “I think it’s highly unlikely that gun control measures will be passed by the Senate this year.

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