The Minnesota Capitol. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.
DFL lawmakers on Thursday called on Republicans in the Senate to act on long-stalled gun legislation at the Capitol, including bans on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, as well as strengthening red-flag intervention laws.
The renewed calls come two days after an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the worst mass school shooting since Sandy Hook Elementary, when a gunman killed 20 students and six adults in 2012.
“Gun violence is a public health issue,” said Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, DFL-Minneapolis.
The GOP-led Senate has blocked a number of gun-control measures at the Capitol. The House DFL approved expanded universal background checks and red-flag interventions, but the legislation saw no action in the Senate.
State Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, acknowledged Democratic lawmakers do not have the votes to approve new gun-control laws, but said it was important to force debate on the legislation.
“I call on us here and on our colleagues to meet our basic duty as state legislators and make laws to save the lives of people,” Mariani said.
The two lawmakers were joined by advocates, including a Richfield school board member and former teacher, Paula Cole, who said Americans shouldn’t become detached from the frequency of mass shootings.
“We can’t become numb to these issues,” Cole said, sharing how she always kept a key to her classroom door on a necklace in case of an active shooter event at school. Students and teachers, she said, practice huddling and hiding in a locked classroom for safety.
The Uvalde mass shooting is spurring calls from Democrats and others who want Congress to act, as well.
But opponents, including the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, are pushing back against such efforts.
“Within a few hours after this attack, we saw calls for the same failed gun-control measures from the past along with many fundraising emails from gun control groups across the country, and here in Minnesota, seeking to capitalize on our nation’s strong emotions,” said Bryan Strawser, executive director of the Gun Owners Caucus. “This is shameful and exploitative.”
Strawser said his organization instead supports additional mental health resources, improved school safety and strong crisis support.
Minnesota lawmakers adjourned the legislative session on Monday, leaving billions of dollars unspent amid policy and spending disagreements between the DFL-led House and the Senate Republican majority.
Democrats are pushing for Republicans to agree to a special session.
Mariani, who chairs the House public safety committee, said on Thursday he has not heard back from his Senate counterpart, Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.