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McCollum calls for new gun laws after Connecticut school shooting

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum was the first member of the Minnesota congressional delegation to call for new gun control laws after a school shooting in Connecticut.

A gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Friday. In a statement, McCollum said the shooting is “heartbreaking” and “incomprehensible,” and she called for lawmakers to take up new gun control laws in the wake of the tragedy.

“The time has come for President Obama, Congress and the American people to come together to act immediately to end the epidemic of gun violence and the proliferation of guns designed to be weapons of mass murder,” she said. “Inaction and obstruction by the National Rifle Association to common sense gun laws is not tolerable.”

Many members of the Minnesota delegation put out statements or tweets about the shooting. Though there are others who support more gun regulation, McCollum is the only one to call for it on Friday.

For his part, Obama said in remarks after the shooting, “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” He didn’t give specifics.

Devin Henry can be reached at

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Comments (30)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/14/2012 - 09:22 pm.


    The weapons used in Connecticut (apparently a Sig Sauer and a Glock) are semi automatic weapons ostensibly marketed to law enforcement agencies. It should not be possible for private individuals to purchase them.
    Law enforcement is not perfect, but other countries have a gun murder rate one fifth of ours, so we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the possible.

    • Submitted by Erik Willaby on 12/16/2012 - 09:31 pm.

      Where did you get your information do you even know what a Glock is. If you didn’t there are a Firearm manufacture that has been know to market to military and law enforcement, now that being said there isn’t much difference in a gun when you break it down you pull the trigger and it goes bang. “semi automatic” yeah i just quoted that. Do you even know what that means. In case you didn’t it means for every one pull of the trigger only one round is fired examples being hunting rifles shotguns. Quit trying to give something a bad name that you really know nothing about. Remember this guns can’t do a darn thing if no human interaction so quit blaming the tool for what a human did to other human beings.

  2. Submitted by Eric Paul Jacobsen on 12/15/2012 - 12:02 pm.

    It’s time to make proposals with broad-based support.

    I don’t support banning guns outright, but:

    More thorough background checks: Yes.  And there should be mandatory training classes for licensed gun holders that are at least as thorough as drivers’ license tests.  Bigger and faster guns with more ammunition should require more training.

    And conceal-carry laws make no sense and must go.  (You can’t deter criminals with a gun they can’t see.)

    And “stand-your-ground” laws are worse than senseless; they open the door immediately to legalized amateur vigilantism and eventually probably to revenge killings and blood feuds as well.

    Better gun laws like these won’t make criminals stop being criminals, but they will make it a little harder for murderers to use the murder method most favored by murderers: shooting people dead with firearms.

    Free treatment for the mentally ill?  Yes.  Not because the mentally ill are really much more likely to be homicidal than supposedly sane people, but because nobody who needs medical treatment of any kind should be denied it in a civilized country.  A possible slight reduction in violence would be a nice fringe benefit.

    • Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 12/15/2012 - 06:50 pm.

      Your comments

      There is gun training for every one owns a gun.There is no such thing a Concealed and Carry Law. I t is a carry law, you have choice to carry in the open or concealed. There is no such thing as stand your ground laws, if your life is threatened you have the right to protect it. Having been a police office for 22 years people like you and your uninformed opinions are more dangerous than a man with a gun. Why don’t you learn before you speak.

      • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/15/2012 - 08:37 pm.

        One wonders

        …where Mr. Kjer lives. Wherever it is, Mr. Kjer could use some education himself before he speaks.

        It’s true that – in Minnesota – there’s no distinction between “open” and “concealed” carry – there is simply a “carry” law. HOW you “carry” is up to you, but there are good reasons why a lot of establishments in the metro area have prominent signs posted saying that guns are prohibited on their premises. In many other states, there IS a distinction between “open” and “concealed” carry. Some states allow both. Some allow only “concealed” carry. The process of acquiring a carry permit of any kind varies widely from state to state.

        No training is required to purchase a long gun in Minnesota. The latest I’ve read and heard is that the Connecticut shooter killed most of his victims with a semi-auto, military-style .223 rifle. No training is required to purchase such a weapon. Since I’ve not tried to buy one here, I don’t know if a permit is required for purchase or not. I do know that no training is required to purchase a handgun in Minnesota. A license or permit to purchase the handgun, yes. Training, no. No permit is required to carry a long gun in one’s vehicle as long as it’s not loaded and the ammunition is kept in a separate container, at least that’s what I was told at my local gun shop. Securing a “carry” permit DOES require training in Minnesota, but not necessarily in other states.

        In one state with which I’m familiar, you can legally carry a loaded handgun in your car without a permit, as long as it doesn’t leave the vehicle while loaded. No license or training is required. If I were a traffic cop, just that little bit of knowledge would keep me awake at night…

        And we’ll see, when the Little Falls defendant goes to trial, just how far the “castle doctrine” extends. I look forward to Mr. Kjer’s apology to the parents of the children in Connecticut for suggesting that someone’s opinion with which he disagrees is more dangerous than the shooter who murdered their sons and daughters. That, Mr. Kjer, is a statement that qualifies as “disgusting,” and if you really believe it, you have no business being in law enforcement.

  3. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 12/15/2012 - 06:29 pm.

    Gun Laws

    Oh, your telling me that if we have a law banning guns, nobody will ever be able to buy one? So please, tell me how no one can now buy drugs.

    • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/16/2012 - 01:32 pm.

      Reading is required

      Really, Mr. Kjer. You should read what people write before you comment.

      I’ve gone back over what I wrote previously several times.

      Nowhere in my comment did I suggest or advocate banning guns, and since I neither suggested or advocated such a course of action, your tongue-in-cheek comment about no one being able to buy a gun is a straw man. You’re arguing against a position that I haven’t taken. It’s unlikely in this country that a law banning the sale and/or possession of firearms would pass a state legislature, and it certainly would stand no chance of passage in Congress.

      Our national and state drug policies are among the great public policy failures of the past hundred years, but they’re not part of this discussion, so I’m inclined to leave that topic for some other time.

    • Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 12/16/2012 - 02:48 pm.

      Officer Kjer….

      With your 22 years of police work, I’m sure that you are well aware of the availability of virtually anyone being able to obtain a weapon either by themselves or by the straw purchasers who are so willing to oblige for the $ incentive. In addition to gun stores, this is also evident in on-line sales as well as within and outside of the so-called gun ‘shows’ that are commonplace throughout our State and Nation.

      Semi-automatic assault rifles along with their mag clips, as well as handguns, are in need of control.

      The weapons manufacturers who ‘cross the palms’ of the the Nat. Rifle Assn. and their lobbyists
      …all bear responsibility for the carnage that has enveloped out Country since the Columbine slaughter over a decade ago. They continue to push for more and more weapons freedom with less and less individual responsibility. By their aftermath silence, it is evident that they ‘could not care less’ for any of the victims…even if there are 20 six and seven year old children.

  4. Submitted by Shelley Leeson on 12/16/2012 - 11:07 am.

    First, Paul Brandon, the Glock 9mm I carry daily is a “semi-automatic.” Please become informed about firearms before making comments. “Semi-automatic” is not a police or military designation. Semi-automatic merely means that the casing is automatically ejected after firing and a new round is “automatically” fed into the firing chamber, and that a separate trigger squeeze is required for each shot. This action is essentially no different from that of a “revolver,” which has a revolving cylinder with several cartridge chambers that may be fired in succession, again requiring a separate trigger pull for each shot. The only difference being that in a “revolver” the casing is not automatically ejected after each shot.

    Now, on to my comments relative to Betty McCollum:

    In the wake of yet another massacre, I call for an immediate end to gun-free killing zones. Politicians and gun control advocates who create killing zones are the ones with blood on their hands.

    It’s time to recognize that “gun-free zones” and so called attempts at “gun control,” which only serve to disarm and disable law abiding citizens, do not work and we must demand that our 2nd Amendment right to defend ourselves and our loved ones be recognized EVERYWHERE.

    Within the last two days we’ve seen police across the country speak out on this issue, and we, in Minneapolis, should heed their words.

    What’s the number one thing they are saying? ELIMINATE GUN-FREE KILLING ZONES. Secondly, allow school staff to be trained in the defensive use of firearms and allow them to be armed to defend innocent people. Thirdly, the public and families have an important role and responsibility in stopping the killers long before their actions come to fruition.,

    NYPD detective:

    Michigan just correctly passed a law allowing guns in formerly gun-free killing zones,

    The MN Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance has generously offered free training to any school staff member who receives permission to be able to defend children in our schools,

    My suggestion: until we can get our school staff properly trained and armed, we have returning and retired military personnel who would probably gladly stand guard at our local schools.

    I’ll say it again, legislators and misinformed gun control advocates who further push to disarm law abiding citizens and/or who create more gun-free killing zones are the ones with blood on their hands. You are responsible for more lives lost.

    These tragedies must end. Don’t limit the right of law abiding citizens to duly defend their lives and the lives of others. So many lives could have been saved on Friday had there been staff in that school who were properly trained and armed. Shameful.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/16/2012 - 07:50 pm.

      I assume that

      all the counterfactuals are tongue in cheek, since I did not mischaracterize the way a semiautomatic weapon works. And you might check on single action vs. double action revolvers. Neither has a cylinder with the capacity of a semiautomatic handgun.
      I doubt that Glock would be in business without military and police contracts.
      And posting links to people who agree with you is not convincing; I don’t see any links to official statements by police departments or other governmental organizations, which is not surprising since most disagree with you.
      And please tell me what part of Minneapolis you live in, so that I can avoid it (looks like I should stay away from the NE).

    • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/16/2012 - 10:37 pm.

      Interesting diatribe

      It might be more useful for the discussion if you actually read what Paul Brandon and others have written before launching your attack.

      Mr. Brandon did not suggest that “semi-automatic” was a police or military designation, which it is not. He said only that Glock and Sig Sauer semiautomatic weapons are marketed to law enforcement agencies. They are. Your lengthy explanation of the mechanical differences between a revolver and a semiautomatic pistol is irrelevant.

      James Ron has elsewhere on MinnPost commented on what might be required to make schools safe, and in doing so seems to have taken into account several viewpoints. He concluded that “nothing short of serious, military-style reinforcement will offer our children a high probability of protection from a determined, well-armed attacker.” I’m not at all sure that the general public would be willing to support such an atmosphere in schools, whether public, private or parochial.

      William Saletan points out in a piece on Slate that casualties go up in direct proportion to the rapidity of fire coming from the attacker. Even that isn’t a causative relationship but the correlation is high, which certainly suggests some things.

      Senator Charles Schumer of New York, one of the more left-leaning Senators in that body at the moment, has reminded his constituents and the political left that the Second Amendment isn’t going to disappear any time soon. The Constitution guarantees Americans the right to bear arms. He also suggested that the right to bear arms is not absolute. “Bearing arms” can mean a lot of different things. I expect that will be part of the discussion in coming weeks.

      You’ve provided several links, but they’re simply opinions. People more web-savvy than I could easily supply links to an equal number of opinions that are the opposite of the the ones you’ve included. Touche. Quoting one police officer versus another gets us nowhere.

      I think it unlikely that the general public would tolerate turning schools into free-fire zones, nor would there be a lot of public support for turning schools into something resembling fortresses, complete with heavily-armed staff.

      It’s interesting that you volunteer returning and retired military personnel for what might be, in essence, a return to combat duty. I’d like to hear more from some of those same returning and retired military personnel about how they’d feel about being asked to volunteer for such duty. Some would be happy to help. Others, who found combat to be… shall we say… “unpleasant,” might be quite a bit less enthused.

      No one I know who is, or has been, a teacher, took the job with the expectation that they’d have to fight off attackers equipped with military-style weaponry. What would you do with those teachers who don’t readily take to military-style training and aren’t very good shots? Suggesting that teachers and other school staff become owners of, and proficient users of, firearms, so as to eliminate “gun-free killing zones” strikes me as analogous to dealing with heroin addiction by encouraging hospital and clinic staff and physicians to become heroin addicts. It’s illogical and unhelpful, and suggesting that those who’d like to get rid of guns altogether have “blood on their hands” is ludicrous and, in my opinion, cowardly.

      The ones with blood on their hands are the shooters – in places too numerous to name, but including Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine, North Minneapolis, and now, in Sandy Hook.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/17/2012 - 09:51 am.

        Thanks, Ray

        In fact, given the high rate of PTSD and other mental problems in combat troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, they’re the last people I’d want carrying guns in schools.
        And no, there’s no reliable way to determine which veterans are certain to be stable (speaking as a a professional psychologist).
        The one thing that is clearly supported by evidence is that fewer guns and fewer bullets means fewer shots fired, which means fewer people shot.

        • Submitted by Jerry Simmons on 12/17/2012 - 07:18 pm.

          Professional Psychologist? Dubious at best

          Your comment indicating returning veterans and their PTSD and other mental problems are to unstable to be around schools with guns is pure baloney.

          As an alleged professional psychologist you would know that thousands, yes I said thousands of veterans go back to work everyday and never hurt a fly and never have any intention to hurt anyone. Hundreds of police officers have PTSD and other “mental problems” and are as stable as anyone else. As for determining “stability” there is no reliable way to determine stability in anyone. If you are the professional you allege to be, you know that too. You sir are part of the problem of perpetuating the PTSD scare in this country. If you are the professional you claim to be, you should be ashamed of yourself!

          Having suffered with PTSD and other “mental problems” for the last 20+ years I might know a little something about this subject. I haven’t shot anyone, planned on shooting anyone, thought about shooting anyone. I have passed more psychological stability exams through both military and civilian psychologists then most people can shake a stick at. ALL have found me mental stable enough to perform the work of a police officer, or other positions where I was authorized the use of deadly force outside of the theater of combat.

          Your indicated that we veterans were to unstable to guard your children. That was nothing more then throwing the veterans under the bus in an effort to support your losing argument. I am so glad I gave the constitution 15+ years of my life so that you could abuse your right of free speech to insult me and brothers and sisters in arms. Your welcome.

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/16/2012 - 09:05 pm.

    Nick Kristof

    has a good column in today’s NYT with some gun death related numbers, including comparisons with Australia and Canada, which have similar cultural backgrounds to ours (both English speaking, recently founded, and with a frontier history and culture).

  6. Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 12/17/2012 - 01:02 am.

    The Sandy Hook Killer Was Also A Law Abiding Citizen

    The young man who murdered the children and teachers in Connecticut was also a “law abiding” citizen until Friday morning. He had no cirminbal record. He did however grow up with a gun worshipping mother who maintained an arsenal of high powered guns and ammunition. Whatever happened to him that triggered his rage, he had easy access to that arsenal and I suspect was comfortable using the weapons in his home.

    There is no such thing as a “law abiding citizen” who walks around carrying a loaded gun; anyone armed with loaded gun is a danger to all of us because they have the most lethal means available to instantly kill anyone who “threatens” them.

    On the old Andy Griffith Show, deputy Barney Fife was allowed to carry a pistol but had to keep his bullet – and it was indeed just one bullet – in his shirt pocket. I have long believed that if we allow people to be armed, we should enforce a one-bullet-in-your-pocket rule as a condition of that carry permit.

    I think we need tough laws not so much about guns, but greatly restricting ammunition and access to it. Without ammunition, guns are intimidating but are essentially just clubs. There are also non-lethal ammunition technologies that should be mandatory for those who insist on carrying a gun.

  7. Submitted by Matthew Zabka on 12/17/2012 - 09:33 am.

    I wonder whether Mr. Bernstein’s claim that, “There is no such thing as a law abiding citizen who walks around carrying a loaded gun” extends to police officers?

    Despite his attempts at hyperbole, there are many law abiding citizens who carry loaded weapons. I’m sure Mr. Bernstein does not need to be reminded that a “law abiding citizen” is defined as “one who follows the law”, and not as “one who does things with which Mr. Bernstein doesn’t agree.” His attempts to redefine us as criminals certainly doesn’t add anything to this discussion.

    • Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 12/17/2012 - 12:17 pm.

      No Hyperbole Necessary!

      There was no hyperbole Mr. Zabka. If you are armed with a loaded gun in your posession you are a lethal threat to everyone you come in contact with. Unlike police officers who have very specific rules and guidance along with a great deal of training, armed amateurs all to often make up their own rules about when and whom to shoot. We read or hear about their carnage way, way too often.

      Actually, people carry loaded weapons in public were criminals until a few years ago when the Legislature and Gov. Pawlenty foolishly changed the law. In my opinion, no truly law abiding citizen carries a loaded, lethal weapon ready to shoot whenever they decide they can or should.

      • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 12/18/2012 - 01:51 am.

        Who, then, do you trust to protect your life?

        An armed agent of the government, available at your beckon call?

        This is getting interesting.

  8. Submitted by Patrick M on 12/17/2012 - 11:59 am.

    Can’t We All Just Get Along

    I’m struck by the fact that the comments posted here are something of a microcosm of the national debate on gun control. Both sides strive to depict proponents of the other as rabid neanderthals incapable of seeing anything reasonable in their opponents point of view. But I think there are reasonable people on both sides of this argument. They just don’t trust each other.

    The matter of responsible gun ownership is an immensely compicated issue in America. It cannot be solved in a single policy change. It will have to be addressed in incremental steps finding concesus and building trust from both sides as we go. I believe there is some common ground near the center where reasonable people from both sides of this issue would agree ( perhaps background checks for people buying weapons at gun shows, for example), but instead we allow extremists from BOTH sides to dominate the discussion. This is why we can’t make progress.

  9. Submitted by Phil Dech on 12/17/2012 - 02:12 pm.

    Coincidence? I think not!

    These pro-gun posters have all registered on MinnPost within the last 2 days.

    • Submitted by Matthew Zabka on 12/18/2012 - 10:52 am.

      1 year, 29 weeks

      I’ve been registered here for quite a bit longer. . .

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 12/21/2012 - 09:58 am.


      I’m “pro-gun” (whatever that means–the way you say it, it sounds like a derogatory term), and I’ve been here for a while, too. I haven’t made comments on this thread previously because I’ve commented elsewhere. The hyperbole on both sides is rampant. As far as I’m concerned, there’s not a single comment here that I can even start agreeing with because they all start from only two points of perspective and a whole lot of emotion, but little in the way of a global perspective with rational consideration of the realities of the situation.

  10. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 12/17/2012 - 08:51 pm.

    Yikes! That’s not reassuring.

    Can anyone access our registration information or just a few people? If anyone can, it would be a handy way to get valid e-mail addresses which might be valuable to certain types of people or companies. No wonder gun registration hasn’t been popular over the years, the information can become known to just about anyone.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 12/18/2012 - 11:48 am.

      Calm down

      When you click on a commenter’s name, you are taken to a screen that tells you how long they’ve been registered, where they are registered, and shows the comments they’ve posted.

      That’s all.

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