America has settled into a disturbing status quo: Whenever a mass shooting occurs and concerned citizens call for reform, Republican politicians do everything they can to run out the clock until the media moves on and the demands of activists become easier to ignore. These disgraceful stalling tactics are why no gun safety measures can pass, despite massive public support for them. As a result, our children are learning how to hide from shooters in school, workplaces across America are increasing security, and our public spaces feel more dangerous by the month.
Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed these stalling tactics play out time and time again, and not just from President Donald Trump and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but right here in Minnesota. One of the biggest perpetrators in our state is Republican Sen. Warren Limmer, who represents Maple Grove and runs the Senate committee that should be holding hearings on new gun safety proposals, but has refused to consider any gun safety bills.
Patronizing and pointless
In response to this summer’s horrifying spate of mass violence, Limmer proposed what amounts to another stalling tactic: He suggested Republicans hold a hearing dedicated to lecturing lawmakers and advocates on what gun safety laws already exist. This proposed hearing is as patronizing as it is pointless. Gun safety advocates are well aware of current laws and the loopholes within them that could allow dangerous individuals to gain access to firearms.
During the last legislative session, the DFL-controlled House of Representatives passed two important gun safety measures to keep Minnesotans safe and close the loopholes in our current gun-buying system: universal background checks and a red flag bill.
Universal background checks are necessary because many private gun sales do not require a background check — which allows someone with a violent criminal history to easily purchase a firearm. Earlier this month, seven people were killed in West Texas by a gunman who failed a background check then bought a gun from a private seller. That should never happen in Minnesota.
Similarly, red flag laws are important because, in many instances, mass shooters will display warning signs before they carry out their attacks. With red flag laws in place, law enforcement can present evidence to a judge that a certain individual poses a threat to their community. If the judge agrees, police can confiscate guns belonging to that dangerous individual. This system protects the right to due process and the rights of lawful gun owners while providing a mechanism to stop potential mass shootings before they begin.
No Senate hearings; nothing got done
While these measures were passed by the DFL-held House, Limmer and the Republican majority in the Senate refused to even hold hearings on both of these bills, so once again, nothing got done.
Behind Limmer’s stalling tactics lies a contempt for Minnesotans who are concerned about gun safety. Limmer was recently quoted as saying that “the public has been kind of whipped into a froth and for some reason, they think we have no gun laws.” It was just over a month ago that a gunman murdered 22 people in El Paso, Texas, including Jordan and Andre Anchondo, who died shielding their 2-month-old child from a hail of bullets. To claim that Minnesotans are “whipped into a froth” because we are terrified of violence like that being visited on our communities is one of the most condescending and misguided things I’ve heard in my time in politics.
Minnesotans who want to keep our communities safe are completely justified in our concern and we will not relent in our demands for action. We don’t need a lecture from Warren Limmer and Senate Republicans; we need them to do something to keep Minnesotans safe.
Ken Martin is chair of the DFL Party.
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