Time to be brave and pass gun safety bills
Law enforcement officers speak together outside of Robb Elementary School following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images.
That’s the number of people who died by gunfire in Minnesota in 2021. Hundreds more were wounded. These are our children, parents, neighbors, teachers.
Right now, Minnesota lawmakers have the opportunity to save some of these lives.
For the first time in a long time Minnesota lawmakers have the power to pass life-saving gun safety legislation. And it’s all because Minnesota voters showed up in droves to the ballot box in November and voted for candidates who have promised to prioritize gun safety. They made it clear that gun safety is popular and delivered a newly formed gun sense trifecta – meaning gun safety advocates hold the majority in the House, Senate and governor’s office.
This legislative session there is a clear path forward for many of the foundational gun laws that play a critical role in keeping our families safe.
For too long, Minnesota has lacked basic public safety provisions — policies that do not hinder the Second Amendment while also protecting the lives of Minnesotans. Like requiring background checks on all gun sales to keep guns out of the hands of people with dangerous histories. And an extreme risk law — a policy that would empower family and law enforcement to petition the court for an order that would temporarily limit access to firearms by a person who has shown clear warning signs.
These policies can be the difference between life and death.
Unfortunately, due to myths and misinformation about these bills, some lawmakers seem to be wavering in their commitment to fight for our safety.
Extreme Risk laws save lives. Period.
They are a crucial way to prevent tragedies when an individual is in crisis and poses a danger to themselves or others.
They are first and foremost a tool for suicide prevention. Suicide accounts for nearly six out of 10 gun deaths in the United States, and 69% of gun deaths in Minnesota are firearm suicides. A study in Connecticut found that one suicide was averted for approximately every 11 gun removals carried out under the law. Looking at other states that have success implementing extreme risk laws, Indiana saw a 7.5% reduction in its firearm suicide rate in the 10 years following their enactment of an extreme risk law.
Extreme risk laws are an essential tool to keep our loved ones and communities safe. In 56% of mass shootings, the shooters exhibited warning signs before the shooting, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. These laws are designed to quickly remove guns from dangerous situations and limit access to firearms by those at risk of harming themselves or others. The law would use a system carefully designed to protect the due process rights of all those involved. These tools are used in states across the political spectrum. Fighting gun violence is nonpartisan.
Across the country, extreme risk laws have saved lives — there are many recent examples of extreme risk laws enabling the removal of firearms from dangerous situations and preventing potential tragedy.
For example, just weeks ago in Erie, N.Y., a temporary extreme risk protection order was issued after a 14-year-old brought a handgun to school and threatened to shoot a teacher. Weapons from the student’s home were turned over by the student’s parents and secured by police.
In February, an extreme risk protection order was issued after a 66-year-old man attempted to smother his girlfriend while she was asleep, and threatened to shoot and use a taser baton on her. Law enforcement arrested the man, and during service of the order, they found a loaded, illegally owned revolver and ammunition at his home.
Background checks on all firearm sales are popular and effective
Current federal law requires background checks be conducted whenever a person attempts to buy a gun from a licensed gun dealer. The law does not require background checks for guns sold by unlicensed gun dealers. This loophole allows prohibited people to purchase guns in Minnesota — no questions asked.
Requiring background checks on all gun sales helps keep guns out of the wrong hands. More than 90% of Minnesota voters support this common-sense measure.
Lawmakers that are not supporting this measure are going against the will of their constituents and endangering public safety.
In the next few weeks, the Minnesota Legislature will hear and vote on these critical safety measures. We ask them to be brave, to show up for their constituents, and to honor their commitments to advance laws that will save lives.
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