Minnesota needs new gun laws to protect our children and families

In the state of Minnesota over the past few days there have been three people killed by gun violence. A beloved teacher was shot and killed by a man with a history of mental illness and suicidal tendencies. Two teenage boys found a gun in their home and played cop and robbers ending with the 15-year-old shooting and killing his 13-year-old brother. Finally, after his family contacted the police that something would happen, a man who had had a long list of felonies went to New Hope City Hall and shot and wounded two officers before he was shot and killed.

There is not one solution that will stop gun violence, but there is more we can do to prevent senseless deaths like the ones recently in Minnesota. We have to start working to pass laws with gun sense. We need more education on gun safety in the home — including the safe storage of firearms. We need to pass laws that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people like criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill. Common-sense gun laws do protect the Second Amendment while protecting our children and families.

Parents don’t think their child will be the victim of gun violence, yet it happens — and it changes those families forever. I know all too well the unthinkable can and does happen — sometimes more than once. My first husband committed suicide with a gun and my daughter committed suicide with a gun, too.

I urge our lawmakers to make passing gun safety legislation a priority.

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Comments (57)

  1. Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/02/2015 - 12:30 pm.

    What New Gun Laws? – Be Specific

    Help me understand what new “common sense” gun laws you’re talking about? Be specific.

    It’s already illegal to intentionally target, shoot, and kill a school teacher in their truck. It’s already illegal to negligently leave a firearm where a person knows children can gain access.

    The City Hall shooter was illegally in possession of a firearm. He had been mentally adjudicated twice. The person that supplied him the firearm committed a felony by purchasing it for him. It’s known as a straw purchase. He’s subject to 10 years in prison on federal charges.

    I agree that education is a powerful deterrent to accidents happening but what new “common sense” laws, specifically, would have prevented any of these events? Please don’t say “universal” background checks. According to the Department of Justice, 40% of firearms used in crimes are obtained via a friend or relative (including straw purchases), 40% are obtained via the street/illegally, and 14% are obtained through dealers (subject to background checks). So called “universal” background checks only punish law abiding citizens. Criminals do not and will not be subject to background checks.

    Please share with your readers the effective, 2nd Amendment friendly, new “common sense” gun laws you would like our legislature to pursue. I await your answer.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 02/04/2015 - 09:47 am.

      Full Disclosure

      Kevin Vick is an NRA certified instructor. He is licensed by the MN BCA to teach Permit to Carry courses at Crucible Arms in Lakeville, of which he is also the President. He’s a Federal Firearm Licensee (dealer).

      So, while Mr. Vick has a ready command of knowledge on the topic, he also is presenting the narrowest field of information that is specifically tailored to refute a much broader argument. I do notice that while he challenges proposed arguments, he offers no potential solutions whatsoever.

      I would argue that there is also a significant profit motive for Mr. Vick as well, in keeping the current system of gun laws in place. There is no interest on Mr. Vicks part to change these laws, whereas he has a compelling interest to keep things as they are.

      • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/04/2015 - 03:15 pm.

        Full Disclosure

        Actually, so called “universal” background checks would be a boon to my small business, contrary to your claim. If all legal transfers of firearms needed to go through a background check, they would need to come to me, a licensed dealer to do so. I would then need to charge them for the transaction including the NICS check as I do with all transfers that go through me. So, you are factually incorrect in your assertion that changing gun laws would arbitrarily mean it’s not in my business’ best interest. Of course, criminals will still not come to see me and pay me for a firearm transfer. They’re criminals.

        • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 02/04/2015 - 04:55 pm.

          Notice that I never mentioned background checks in my post, period. To my point, you are again using very specific language and terminology (NICS check, etc) to refute a claim about background checks that you yourself brought up as way to somehow negate my comment.

          While I acknowledge that I am not an expert on the retail aspect of gun sales, I do know that whenever new legislation is introduced that makes changes to laws, regulations, and the buying and selling of [insert commodity here] that a cost necessarily translates down to whomever is at the point of sale. New systems often must be implemented, new training must take place, and of course your own time is impinged as the business owner. Really, anytime a business has to change it’s practices and become compliant with any regulatory law, there is a cost associated. I may have been incorrect when I said it was ‘significant.’

          I was mostly trying to point out that you are hardly an objective observer in all of this. Earlier, you chided Mr. Myron for ‘lashing out,’ and after looking at your comment record, which is nearly exclusively posts on articles about gun laws (the other two seem to relate to professional staffing), I would mention that your prolific posts in gun-related articles might be seen as lashing out to many others who are looking for solutions to the problem of mass public shootings.

          • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/04/2015 - 09:58 pm.

            Stay on Point Please

            Jonathan, you claimed that, as an FFL, I have “a significant profit motive” to keep the current laws in place. I showed the error in your assumption and instead of admitting your error, you start to deflect and go off point.

            NICS stands for National Instant Criminal Background Check System. It’s been at the core of the conversation in this thread so is relevant to the conversation, specifically in light of your false assertion that it’s in the best interest of my business to see no legislative change.

            You also falsely accuse me of not offering any solutions. I stated that education is key to helping the already plummeting rate of gun crime. I later go on to advocate for vigorous prosecution of gun crimes. Joan Peterson and I agree on both of those points.

            For the sake of full disclosure you should be aware that Joan Peterson is a board member of the Brady Campaign and Chair of the Board of Protect Minnesota, an out of state anti-gun advocacy group funded by the Joyce Foundation which is also a benefactor of MinnPost. Nobody in this conversation is “hardly an objective observer” save perhaps for you.

            • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 02/05/2015 - 09:20 am.

              On Full Disclosures and False Accusations

              Thank for you letting me know about Joan’s positions. I am aware of the Joyce foundation, as they are a rather large non-profit group that funds many initiatives, projects, and news outlets across the midwest. I also know that one of their key issues is gun safety, and that they are often cited as an anti-gun boogeyman in gun-related articles on Minnpost, generally as a way to discredit the article itself.

              I do know what NICS is, although that one issue alone doesn’t seem to offer any insight into how your business may or may not be affected. Presumably, you wouldn’t want movement on any sort of new gun control or regulations to begin, as it may lead to bans on certain types of weapons and weapon accessories. I am guessing that when you sell high-capacity magazines (the royal you, I don’t know if your shop sells these), you also stand to sell more ammo as well… so you would have a stake in maintaining the status quo. I stand by that opinion, and certainly as an NRA member, you are advocating for the continuation of the same gun “culture” and hysteria that has been such a boon to the firearms industry in the last 10 years. Indeed, stoking fear of “gun grabbing” is proven to boost sales.

              Now, your proposed solutions are certainly nothing new, merely more of the same (so really, nothing has actually been proposed). Advocating for more gun education and vigorous prosecution are empty platitudes. Gun education classes already exist, (besides, what’s the point of educating people who DON”T own guns on how to use guns? Would you make gun education mandatory? In the schools? ) and I’m curious what gun crimes aren’t currently “vigorously prosecuted?”

              Regardless,all your “arguments” seem to devolve into worry about mandatory gun registration. I guess I don’t see the big deal with that. We all have to register our cars every year, and those aren’t even designed to kill people. We can’t just “give” cars to our family members without going to the DMV and getting insurance.

              • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/05/2015 - 12:41 pm.

                Reply

                Jonathan: You make a lot of unfounded and false assertions regarding me, my business and my views. It’s hard to know where to begin. It seems you’re not interested in a dialogue but rather attempts to discredit and demonize.

                I’m not discrediting the Joyce Foundation. Never said that. They are, as you admit, a decidedly anti-gun organization and I wanted to demonstrate that Joan, Protect Minnesota, and the Joyce foundation are bringing their biases to this conversation. You were only interested in speaking about my biases. I thought it fair to flesh out your knowledge.

                As for the NICS system, it is the mechanism that’s used to check the backgrounds of potential firearm buyers. It’s at the heart of the so called “universal” background check legislation initiatives. When someone wants to buy or receive a transfer of a handgun, rifle, or receiver from a dealer they must fill out a Form 4473. Additionally, in Minnesota, they must have either a valid permit to purchase or a permit to carry if they want to transfer a handgun or certain classifications of rifles. They must also produce a valid government issued ID. The form requires full name, birthdate, state of birth, state of residence, current address, and asks a number of questions the buyer must fill out to attest to their ability to legally possess a handgun. Additionally, the type, manufacturer, model, serial number, and caliber of the firearm being transferred is recorded on the form along with the dealer’s information. The dealer then calls into the FBI NICS system to run a background check on the individual filling out the form. If approved, the transfer is allowed. If not, the person is prohibited from completing the transfer. The form needs to be kept on file by the dealer regardless of the outcome and available to the ATF upon request. There are a number of other requirements involved in multiple purchases and other circumstances that I won’t go into here. Dealers charge between $20 and $75 per transfer.

                So, quite simply, changing the law to require so called “universal” background checks means that all legal private transfers between individuals would now have to be subject to this process. That means I would be able to make $20 to $75 on every private transfer between law abiding citizens. That would be a boon to my business. So, your claim that I’m against changing any/all firearm laws because they would negatively impact my business is patently false. Furthermore, to think that criminals are going to line up at my door to involve themselves in this process is quite the fantasy. A very few do and they’re turned down and for the most part allowed to walk away. We’ll talk more about that shortly.

                “High capacity” magazines is a term made up by the media to induce fear and hysteria into the uneducated. All semiautomatic firearms have magazines of various capacities that were designed for use in that particular system. Magazine capacity is dictated by the design of the firearm. Please give me a fact based, empirically supported definition of what “high capacity” means. Is it less than one hundred or no more than one round? What data do you have to support your definition of “high capacity” as opposed to mine or anyone else’s? “High capacity” is a capricious, arbitrary opinion only. Your notion that more ammunition is sold because of this mythical “high capacity” magazine is, again, uninformed. It’s like saying your car has a “high capacity” fuel tank so you are, of course, going to put more miles on your car as a result.

                Education entails a lot more than knowing how to handle a firearm. People don’t need to know what a chemical does to be trained not to ingest it. People don’t need to be swimmers to know the dangers of drowning. There are many education programs designed around knowing what you should and shouldn’t do around a firearm that have nothing to do with operating it. Safe storage, telling an adult if you see an unsecured firearm at a friends house, active shooter defense are just a couple of examples of training that don’t involve handling a firearm. You don’t need to own a gun to educate yourself. Should gun safety be mandatory in schools? I’m not much for mandatory anything but it should be made available and promoted. Education is a good thing.

                As for prosecution, gun charges are often the first thing dropped in a plea bargain. According to the DOJ, 70% of gun criminals that re-offend have already been incarcerated for illegal possession or use of a firearm. Does that sound like vigorous prosecution and sentencing? Straw purchases, such as the one in the City Hall shooting, rarely go prosecuted. The state chose not to charge this individual. Does that sound to you like vigorous prosecution? To be fair, it was most likely done because they assumed federal charges would be filed, and they have. It’s a high profile case so it will be prosecuted in order to avoid looking lax. Otherwise, the overwhelming majority of straw purchases that are discovered are not prosecuted. Those turned down on a NICS background check have committed a felony simply by attempting to make the purchase. They are allowed to simply walk away as the shooter in the City Hall tragedy did, twice! Let me assure you, I want gun criminals prosecuted and incarcerated to the fullest extent of the law. These aren’t platitudes.

                Let’s talk gun registration. Unlike an automobile, the right to bear arms is a Constitutional guarantee. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to agree with it, but unless you overturn it, it’s as valid as the 1st Amendment and all the others. History has proven time and time again that registration leads to confiscation. That’s not opinion, it’s fact. You can’t argue facts. Those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

                Jonathan, thank you for the opportunity to reply. I hope I’ve dispelled some of your misconceptions and accusations toward me and my intent. I, as much as anyone, perhaps more so want to see the continued decline we’re seeing in gun crime. Yes, I have skin in the game. I enjoy the shooting sports and have done so since I was eight years old. I’ve never hurt anyone with a firearm and have no intention of doing so. I represent the 99% of firearm owners in this country that never have and never will harm anyone. Lumping us in with criminals is divisive and dishonest. I’m a law abiding citizen firearm owner.

                • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 02/06/2015 - 04:18 pm.

                  I had written a lengthier, if meandering, response to this earlier in the day, but it appears to have not passed comment moderation. I’m not going to bother retreading it, except for a few points.

                  1. Everyone has bias. Everyone can attempt objectivity, or can at least recognize that gun-regulation crowd has a legitimate grievance.
                  2. High Capacity as a term is understood by everyone. High Capacity is somewhat relative to the type of firearm. I would say that anything over 10-11 rounds is High Capacity, for any civilian weapon.
                  3. Federal prosecution of gun crime is stymed by pro-NRA activists in Congress. The ATF didn’t have a confirmed director for 7 years and is chronically and intentionally underfunded. NICS has huge holes in it as states are not required (and many do not) input or share their own gun-crime information.
                  4. You state that gun crimes are down. The entire crime rate for the US has dropped dramatically over the last 20 years- I can guess that each are correlated. Conversely, the incidence rate of mass public shootings is on the rise.
                  5. Registration would only lead to confiscation in situations were confiscation is legally warranted.

                  • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/08/2015 - 05:12 am.

                    Your Response

                    So called “High Capacity” magazines were banned during the so called “Assault” Weapon ban in the ’90’s. Studies show it had little to know effect.

                    I support mandating and funding state reporting to the NICS system.

                    Illegal seizures have occurred including during Katrina. The courts agreed that unwarranted confiscations occurred and were never remedied.

                • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 02/06/2015 - 04:22 pm.

                  Oh, and 6.

                  6. You called me “divisive and dishonest.” I never “lumped you in with criminals,” as you assert.

    • Submitted by Craig Johnson on 02/06/2015 - 09:07 am.

      Second Amendment Friendly?

      The ridiculously outdated Second Amendment is a lasting travesty on American society. To the extremes of military style long guns, to high capacity magazines, to the explosion on concealed carry permits, we are reaching the tipping point of backlash to the NRA’s all gun, all the time, anywhere agenda.

      We often hear we need to enforce the laws we have: but the lobby effort of gun manufacturers via the NRA limits the enforcement of the laws they lobbied for. This “Catch 22” approach serves to curtail the concern while enabling the explosion of gun sales.

      We don’t need to take a Second Amendment friendly approach to a more moderate and responsible gun sales and ownership discussion. We need more common sense and less strident voices. You can decry the teenagers who found an unlocked handgun that resulted in the death of one of the children, but we really need to examine why the homeowner sensed he needed a gun for home defense in the first place. The ultimate question is not whether it was properly locked, but why it was there in the first place. Statistics do not line up well for the effectiveness of guns in homes providing safety for owners.

      Anecdotal stories do not provide proof of facts. Guns are rarely the solution, more often the source of the problem.

      • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/06/2015 - 12:41 pm.

        2nd Amendment

        Pew Research and the Department of Justice report gun homicide is down 39% to 49% and overall gun crime is down a whopping 69% over the past twenty years. This during a legislative environment that has been largely pro 2nd Amendment and after the sunset of the so called “assault” weapon ban.

        You’re right, gun ownership is going up while gun crime is going down. I’m not saying correlation is causation, just stating facts. As I’ve asked all the other folks posting on this thread, please give me specific new legislation that you believe will continue the already dramatic decline in gun homicides.

        As you say, “anecdotal stories do not provide proof of facts”. Please provide some definitive, fact base legislation that will help. I’m always willing to listen.

  2. Submitted by Joan Peterson on 02/02/2015 - 03:33 pm.

    Minnesota gun laws

    We can strengthen our background check and straw purchasing laws which clearly need to be examined after the shooting at the New Hope city hall. Had the shooter not obtained a gun from a straw buyer, who has now been released because Minnesota law is too weak regarding straw purchasers, he could have obtained a gun from a private seller at a gun show or on-line with no background check. About 40% of gun sales go without background checks. Our laws are archaic and do not suit what is actually happening. As to the shooter of the teacher, he had admitted to being suicidal. He was drinking with his family, got a gun from his closet, cut off the trigger lock at the fire station where he was working and went out and shot at a truck. He should not have had a gun. It is not just laws. It is a culture of guns and gun violence that we’re not addressing with reasonable discussion. Gun suicides account for 70% of gun deaths in Minnesota. Safe storage of guns would reduce some of these deaths as well as totally avoidable deaths of young children who get their hands on guns. Prosecuting adults for allowing access to guns by small children would also help. Often they don’t get held responsible because they are grieving. We have a gun violence epidemic that we are avoiding. This letter is suggesting the need for changes all the way around. What’s wrong with that?

    • Submitted by Pat Watson on 02/02/2015 - 06:08 pm.

      Inaccurate Statistics

      The 40% no background check statistic has been discredited for quite awhile now.

      http://www.factcheck.org/2013/03/guns-acquired-without-background-checks/

      The bigger question with the New Hope shooter was why he was allowed to be out walking the streets after having made terroristic threats in the past, and currently was subjected to a restraining order.

      The straw purchaser of the firearms should be subjected to charges and trial for his role in this – never have I seen a more obvious straw purchase. Looks like “Universal” background checks would have been a failure here too.

      The teacher murderer appears to have had warning signs also – just like most of these people do. Why aren’t we getting them off the streets and getting them help? I think that’s the bigger question here.

      As far as including suicides in your numbers – how would storage laws and “universal” background checks stop suicides? Again – a case to be made for readily available counseling and support networks – not more unenforceable laws.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 02/02/2015 - 06:18 pm.

      Why do we have so many guns in this country? And why does gun ownership seem to be increasing?

      I found interesting this recent quote by St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith (http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/01/30/stpaul-cops-shooting):

      “In 2012, the department recovered a record number of firearms, more than 600.

      “That’s a huge increase over previous years, he said. ‘Fifteen years ago, you hardly ever heard of anybody having a gun.'”

      Why do we need so many guns? And why does this “need” seem to be increasing?

    • Submitted by Mark Crist on 02/03/2015 - 09:40 am.

      Straw purchases

      The person who bought the firearms for the New Hope shooter could still be charged for violation of federal law as is plainly stated in the form 4473, the form he filled out and apparently lied on.

  3. Submitted by Pat Watson on 02/02/2015 - 06:12 pm.

    Gun Safety Education

    I absolutely support the Legislature passing some type of Gun Safety Education initiative.

    Free firearm safety classes for all Minnesotans available through the community & technical college system would be a great place to start. They could cover laws, safe storage and handling, and usage…all in a controlled and safe environment!

    I look for your support on this initiative Diane!

  4. Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/02/2015 - 07:33 pm.

    Responding to “Minnesota Gun Laws”

    Joan, tell me what “strengthening our background check and straw purchase laws” entails? The shooter wasn’t subject to a background check, he obtained his gun illegally. So, your comment on background checks is mute. Under the current law, the straw purchaser is facing up to ten years imprisonment. What new law are you suggesting?

    Your claim that 40% of gun purchases is a complete falsehood. That number comes from a non validated survey of less than 300 people. More importantly it was done prior to the establishment of the current NICS background check system. In other words, no NICS background checks were being done at the time of the survey.

    You too are unable to articulate specifically what laws the current call to action the legislators are being asked to advocate. Unable to do so, you instead start talking about education and prosecution. We can agree on those two issue. Educating people about the safe use and storage of firearms will help to reduce accidents, just as educating people about the dangers of not locking up household cleaners and pool safety reduce those accidental deaths. We agree that vigorously prosecuting irresponsible parents who don’t safeguard children adequately from all dangers found around the house and going after straw purchasers is a good thing.

    We don’t have a gun violence epidemic. Gun violence isn’t spreading. According to PEW Research and the Department of Justice gun homicide is down 39% to 49% and total gun crime is down 69% over the past twenty years. This occurred in a legislative environment that has been largely pro 2nd Amendment.

    Finally, the letter is a call to legislators to create new “common sense” gun laws, not “the need for changes all around”. I’ve asked a simple question. What new laws is the writer suggesting? I still await Diane’s answer.

  5. Submitted by Joan Peterson on 02/02/2015 - 08:51 pm.

    statistics

    This link helps to sort out where those “40% of firearms obtained via the street” come from. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118286/facts-about-gun-control-and-universal-background-checks

    From this article: “When criminals get guns, they get them from friends, family, or from an underground market source. Without universal background check requirements, there is little deterrent to selling guns to criminals or gun traffickers. State laws mandating universal background checks deter the diversion of guns to criminals. The most comprehensive screening and background check processes, where potential gun purchasers apply in person for permits to purchase handguns, are associated with lower homicide and suicide rates.”

    Guns don’t fall from the sky. All guns start out as legal purchases. There are various ways in which guns make it to the “illegal” market. One of them is sales that go without background checks. The internet is a new source of private sales that has added a lot of sales without background checks. One need only look at Armslist.com to find the number of guns sold via the Internet by private sellers, many of whom sell with no background checks. http://www.armslist.com/classifieds/minnesota

    None of these kind of sales were anticipated when the study that found 40% of gun sales sold without background checks was completed. In addition, the gun lobby successfully scuttled government research into the causes and effects of gun violence that could add much needed statistics as to the sources of crime guns.

    So we need new and stronger laws. We need research. We need education about the risks of guns in homes and we need to change the conversation and the culture of guns that leads our country to have the most gun deaths per capita than any other civilized democratized country not at war. Just teaching about gun safety won’t solve the problem. That is only one solution to a multi-faceted problem.

    • Submitted by Pat Watson on 02/02/2015 - 09:17 pm.

      So again, how would “universal” background checks have stopped the New Hope criminal and teacher killer? You called them out as examples…so….

  6. Submitted by Joan Peterson on 02/03/2015 - 07:27 am.

    Background checks

    A background check already stopped Kmetz from buying a gun several times before this incident, because he was a prohibited purchaser. That is how the system is supposed to work and does work. In this case, he found a straw buyer who could pass a background check to pick up the guns he ordered on-line. Two names were on the transaction. Had the gun shop owner done a background check on Kmetz whose name was also on the transaction, the shooter wouldn’t have been able to get this gun. He had tried to get guns before but didn’t pass a background check. He could easily have found a private seller, though, who would have sold a gun to him with no background check.
    http://www.startribune.com/local/west/290385351.html

  7. Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/03/2015 - 10:05 am.

    So called “universal” Background Checks

    Joan, your supposition is that straw purchasers, people that knowingly purchase firearms on behalf of someone they know can’t legally own a gun (thereby bypassing a valid NICS check), and street criminals, family members, and friends, will now take criminals to a licensed dealer and conduct a background check. Criminals don’t do that now so what makes you think they’ll do it if so called “universal” background checks are in place? Your logic contends criminals will suddenly obey a new law in place of ignoring current law.

    Two, the overwhelming majority of internet sales go through a licensed dealer and are subject to background checks. Less than 2% are private transfers between individuals.

    Three, you can’t have two names on a 4473 form. That’s inaccurate reporting. The person who committed the felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison, used his name on the form. It was a straw purchase. Already illegal.

    So called “universal” background checks would not have changed a single element of the City Hall shooting. In fact, the shooter, by your account, was set on obtaining a firearm illegally and wouldn’t be deterred. That’s what criminals do.

  8. Submitted by G William Burkhardt on 02/03/2015 - 01:49 pm.

    Gun Laws

    Let’s begin with a simple law that will emphasize safety.
    How about a 30-day jail sentence for any parent whose child finds an unlocked gun and ammunition in the home and shoots and injures someone with it.

    We can quibble about the exact wording of the law with the legislators.

    • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/03/2015 - 03:39 pm.

      Gun Laws

      William, the law exists already. MN Statute 609.666 NEGLIGENT STORAGE OF FIREARMS.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/04/2015 - 10:18 am.

      30 days?

      That hardly matches the severity of the crime.

      The existing negligent storage law is a gross misdemeanor, which means up to a year in jail. Of course, you can count on the rabid Second Amendment fans to argue that’s way too severe (“He has suffered enough!”).

      • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/05/2015 - 07:21 am.

        Making Assumptions

        RB, I’m happy to revisit sentencing guidelines. Rather than assuming “rabid 2nd Amendment fans” won’t how about asking instead? Punishments should fit the crime. That would include all types of negligence involving children, not just the improper storage of firearms.

  9. Submitted by jason myron on 02/03/2015 - 04:20 pm.

    I see the newsfeeds

    flashed the bat signal to our usual group of “patriots”, who have arrived to defend their precious 2nd amendment rights and assure us that there can be absolutely nothing done to curb gun violence and any talk of such is just the first step to confiscation…rinse, repeat.

    • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/03/2015 - 04:47 pm.

      Really?

      Jason: Sorry you feel the need to lash out. Your accusation isn’t correct. If you take the time to read the posts you’ll find that we all agree on education and vigorous prosecution as positive steps to further reduce the already plummeting rate of gun crime.

  10. Submitted by Brent Gurtek on 02/04/2015 - 08:12 am.

    gun issue

    There’s been good comments made here by people on both sides of the issue. Clearly, better gun safety education and stricter enforcement of existing gun laws are great starter measures – as most of you agree. In particular, Pat’s idea for a Gun Safety Education initiative is long overdue in a country with high gun ownership.

    Also doing something substantial about mental illness. (The trouble here is it’s very easy to get politicians of all stripes to beat the drum for addressing mental illness but a whole different thing to get them to fund it.)

    That said, loopholes in our nation’s gun laws lead to a vast & steady influx of guns to prohibited persons. Simple measures like safe gun storage & universal background checks could cut that flow noticeably.

    Every year the authorities confiscate/collect about 500,000 guns, mainly from folks that are prohibited, by law, from having them. Such has been the case for many years. This yearly weapons eflux should have depleted the criminal arsenal to near zero by now. But it hasn’t because of the vast & steady influx of guns diverted from the legal market due to legislative loopholes. The influx roughly balances the eflux over time so that the cops’ efforts at disarming crooks is akin to bailing water out of a leaking boat. The water is coming in as fast as the poor bailers are dumping it out.

    It’s far better to put into shore and patch the leaks. In effect, plug the legislative loopholes.

    So what sources provide this illegal gun influx? Mainly three. 1) Almost certainly gun theft is the primary source. About 500,000 guns are stolen every year in this country and many, especially handguns, end up on the illicit market. 2) Purchase w/o a background check is another, though as folks here have mentioned, the magnitude of this source is undetermined. 3) Straw purchase is the third.

    If these three sources are cut with tightly written laws (unlike those we currently have) the authorities, given time, can reduce the criminal arsenal. The cops will keep the eflux “efluxing” as that’s part of their job. But the legislators have to address the influx with tightly written laws.

  11. Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/04/2015 - 01:14 pm.

    Brent – Gun Issues

    Brent, thanks for your input. I keep hearing about “new” laws and “tightly written laws” but hear no concrete, definitive language regarding such. What new legislation are you offering as effective in reducing the already plummeting rate of gun crime? You’re the third person I’ve asked this of and I have yet to receive any answers other than so called “universal” background checks which evidence shows will have little to no effect.

    To your point, 40% of guns used in crimes come from the street/illegally, 40% come through friends/family members (including straw purchases) and 14% come through dealers (subject to a NICS background check). Please explain to me how so called “universal” background checks will reduce gun crime? Given the sources of guns used in crime, please provide evidence that criminals will suddenly subject themselves to background checks and then be stopped from illegally possessing firearms. The City Hall shooter is a great case in point.

    So called “universal” background checks will only provide a de facto back door gun registration. More importantly it will “tax” law abiding citizens without addressing the source of illegal guns. It’s feel good legislation that makes the public think “something/anything” is being done to reduce gun crime rather than addressing the core issues. Again, according to the DOJ, 70% of criminals re-arrested for gun crimes had already been previously incarcerated for the illegal possession, sale, or use of a firearm. What if we vigorously enforced the laws we already have and stop re-releasing recidivist gun criminals back on the street to re-offend? That requires no new “feel good/do nothing” laws.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 02/05/2015 - 01:38 pm.

      Cite please

      You have repeatedly referred to “the already plummeting rate of gun crime”.

      This is a claim which should be backed up with verifiable facts. Please provide citation(s) which do so.

      • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/05/2015 - 06:43 pm.

        Pew Research and the Department of Justice report that gun homicide has declined between 39% to 49% and total gun crime has dropped a staggering 69% over the past twenty years.

  12. Submitted by Joan Peterson on 02/04/2015 - 01:19 pm.

    gun registration

    It is ever interesting and predictable that the gun rights folks always get around to gun registration and/or confiscation no matter what the issue is. There is no gun registration in background checks for all gun sales. There never has been and there won’t be. Brady background checks have been around for over 20 years now. Can anyone tell me where gun registration has occurred as a result? The law is simple. All guns sold should have a background check. That’s it. Nothing more. One background check for every sale no matter where it is with some exceptions, as seems to be necessary, for family transfers of guns though I would suggest that in the New Hope case, family members actually did seem to want Kmetz to get his guns back and facilitated getting those guns back on his behalf. Hopefully they did not give them back to him knowing that he had been committed to a mental hospital but sometimes one cannot account for the actions of family members. Sure we always need to enforce the laws we have. That is another excuse however for not expanding the law we already have to make it more effective at stopping criminals, adjudicated mentally ill people, domestic abusers, drug abusers, etc. from getting guns easily with no background checks.

    • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/04/2015 - 02:47 pm.

      Gun Registration

      Joan, I am an FFL. Every single firearm that I sell has its serial number recorded, along with the purchaser’s name and address and is put on file. That same number is on file with the distributor that sold me the firearm and it’s also on file with the manufacturer. Tell me that’s not a de-facto registration. So, “universal” background checks would create the same paper trail for all legally sold and transferred firearms. Of course it wouldn’t apply to criminals since they overwhelmingly don’t legally buy or sell firearms so it won’t deter gun crime. You seem to be advocating that it’s beside the point.

      You claim there are no registrations or confiscations. You are factually incorrect. Firearm registrations exist in California, New York, and Connecticut to name just a few states and their registrations have led to confiscations. You are quite simply wrong.

      Representative Michael Paymar, as recently as the last MN Legislative session, drafted a bill that would have led to the forfeiture of all so called “assault” weapons upon the death of the owner not allowing for the transfer or sale of the firearm to anyone including family members. That’s de facto confiscation.

      Joan, you still haven’t demonstrated how to, “make it more effective at stopping criminals, adjudicated mentally ill people, domestic abusers, drug abusers, etc. from getting guns easily with no background checks.” Criminals do not and will not be subject to background checks. The case in point is the New Hope City Hall shooter. He obtained his firearm illegally after being turned down by the very process you’re advocating for. Criminals find a way.

  13. Submitted by Brent Gurtek on 02/05/2015 - 09:54 am.

    This gun issue

    Kevin, Here’s a somewhat lengthy response to your recent questions. (I hope you & other folks can follow it.):

    Though it’s true that the U.S. gun violence rate has dropped considerably since the mid-1990’s, sadly it’s rather leveled off over the past 5+ years. And it’s still much higher than other industrialized nations – even those with fairly high private firearms ownership.

    Regarding specifics about background check laws; I would make them basically universal on a national level. There would be exceptions for transfers between close family members, most transferees with permits to acquire and most carry permits. Plus I’d want more complete record keeping and submission from the states.

    But at least equally important is getting gun owners to more safely store their weapons – at the very least the guns they own but do not use for home defense. And stow/hide away their home defense gun when they’re not at home.

    I do know that states which have passed universal background checks have more crime guns traced to other states than the national average. This tends to say the traffickers must travel out of state to maintain their inventory.

    And countries with high private gun ownership but low gun crime tend to use background checks as a part of their strategy.

    Of the 40% sold on the street illegally; the majority of these guns are likely stolen. Still, I’d bet the sellers acquired another portion of that 40% from non-dealers (plus some straw purchases from FFLs). So safe storage and background checks would dent this supply.

    Of the 40% provided by friends/family; many of these friends/family may not be able to pass a BC themselves & thus would not have a gun to supply anyone with in the first place (if they were compelled to undergo a BC). Also, a number of criminals steal or borrow guns from criminal acquaintances who likewise would be prohibited by a BC from getting a gun that could then be stolen or borrowed.

    The remaining 14% that come from FFLs via a straw purchase is a real stumper, admittedly. I’m sure there are some bad FFLs, but it’s more likely, in most instances, that straw purchasing is just-plain, darned tough to catch. As you say, the New Hope case is one example.

    Criminal sellers won’t subject their buyers to background checks. That’s certainly true. But criminal gun transfers, on the street or between criminals in some other venue or scenario, are “downstream” transactions after the guns have left the legal market. The authorities remove them at about 500,000 guns/annum. That’s the “eflux”. Background checks and safe storage, as well as any anti-straw purchase measures, are “upstream” and deal with reducing the future criminal gun supply. That’s the “influx”.

    Tight BCs & safe storage have no impact on the size of the existing criminal arsenal because those guns have already “left the barn”, so to speak, and are thus downstream. And, as we agree, crooks don’t do BCs. But this existing arsenal will be whittled down over time by the never-ending efforts of the authorities.

    Tight BCs & safe storage function to make a re-supplying of that criminal arsenal more difficult. Not impossible, unfortunately, but more difficult.

    Regarding registration and confiscation, I suppose there’s no telling what a background check law could ultimately bring. But given our country’s history of the armed citizen, citizen militias, the armed frontier, etc, Americans are not at all interested in gun confiscation. Guns and gun use are too much a part of our ethos & self-image. The small minority that wants to confiscate guns have very little political clout. Usually they can only pass such draconian laws in the dead of night.

    Background checks that would provide the authorities with a paper trail to catch criminals would be the best for that very reason. But they’re not totally necessary and, on the flip side, do leave the potential for confiscation; whatever that potential may be.

    A BC law that merely required a permit to acquire or a valid carry permit would halt most prohibited transferees, which is the main thing. And there would be no paper trail. Though you couldn’t go back and nab the prospective prohibited buyer, no gun would get into the wrong hands either.

    I think that purchase w/o a background check is a source of crime guns to some, as yet, unknown degree. But most gun folks don’t engage in so much gun buying & selling to be much affected by the inconvenience & cost of universal background checks. They’re more likely to pay a big price down the road, in terms of limitations to their rights, for obstructing what many Americans feel is a sensible safety measure. Especially as time goes on & the nation gets ever more urbanized & diverse.

    Regarding the 70% recidivism rate of gun offenders; If we get these crooks’ data into a tight BC system we can better reduce their future gun acquisitions.

    And lastly, I’m all for vigorously enforcing the laws we already have and stopping the re-releasing of recidivist gun criminals back on the street.

  14. Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/05/2015 - 03:16 pm.

    This Gun Issue

    Brent, thank you for your thoughtful reply. You and I agree that education and enforcement are positive steps. We disagree on so called “universal” background checks and there are critical flaw in your assumptions of the source of illegal firearms. Here’s the breakdown of where criminals get their firearms according to the Department of Justice: 40% are obtained off the street or an illegal source. This includes Theft or Burglary, Drug Dealer/Off Street, and Fence/Black market. 40% are through family or friend. This includes Purchased or Traded (including straw purchases), and Rented or Borrowed. 14% are purchased at Retail Stores and Pawn Shops (subject to background checks) and 1.7% of those are bought at Flea Markets/Gun Shows. Contrary to popular misconception and flat out spin, 80% of firearms bought at gun shows are subject to background checks.

    So 80% of guns used in crimes come through family/friends (including straw purchases) and via illegal means (Theft, Burglary, Black Market). These folks will not be subject to so called “universal” background checks. The thieves, street and black market crowd aren’t going to find a dealer to background check anyone. Family and friends overwhelmingly are knowingly committing a straw purchase or loaning it to a prohibited person. They too will not be seeking out a dealer to do a legal transfer.

    You also claim that if a permit were required on a BC it would deter gun crime. It is already required that anyone purchasing a handgun of any type and certain classifications of rifles (which are used less in homicides than hammers) need either a Permit to Purchase issued by the police department or a Permit to Carry issued by the Sheriff’s department. Both permits are subject to background checks prior to issuance.

    So you see, 80% of illegal gun acquisitions have not, and never will be subject to any kind of background check, “universal” or not.

    Thank you again for your input.

  15. Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/05/2015 - 08:55 pm.

    We get your point

    Its just that most of us, even those like me, a gun owner not particularly interested in confiscation, fail to see you “solution”, as anything but throwing up our hands and saying nothing can be done. If as you say, getting the guns out of criminal hands is a task impossible by conventional means, how about unconventional ones? All guns, regardless of how they were most recently obtained start out as legal firearms, right? They then proceed by whatever channel into the hands of those who should not obtain them. Generally speaking, I would expect criminals to be less than diligent in the upkeep of said firearms and as such require a regular influx of new guns to replace the old ones, lost, damaged or stolen. I propose a 10 year hiatus in the manufacture of new firearms, coinciding with an aggressive border screening operation to prevent the influx of illegally smuggled arms as well. No legally obtained guns would be subject to any action whatsoever, nor would any law abiding citizen be subject to any action should that status be maintained. Police seizure and disposal of criminal arms would continue as it does currently, and at the end of the hiatus, enforcement action against things like straw purchase would be heightened as you suggest. If you’d like, compensation for dealers like yourself could be provided to weather the intervening years as gun numbers are scarce. Manufacturers would cope with international sales, and perhaps an increase in military contracting to coincide with the timeframe. Not an attempt at confiscation(at least not for anyone but criminals), not an attempt to curtail anyone’s rights, but an effort to simply lower the number of illegal firearms through attrition. Feel free to implement your suggestions concurrently, as they have merit, but use this as a means to do the one thing your proposals cannot.

  16. Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/06/2015 - 06:52 am.

    10 Year Moratorium

    Matt: What you’re suggesting is Prohibition. That didn’t work out very well. In fact, it established the rise of the organized crime in America. Supply and demand. So, supply dries up and the demand by criminals continues. Theft, robbery and black market trafficking explodes. Law abiding citizens have their firearms stolen and criminals now have them. I’m sorry, that doesn’t sound like a workable or effective strategy to me.

    Gun crime is down 69% over the past 20 years. I’m all for effective answers. What’s being discussed here isn’t effective. It’s just opiate for the masses. One more time, my suggestion is expanded education and vigorous prosecution.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/06/2015 - 09:09 am.

      Then we’ll need to agree to disagree

      Because 1.Even if your numbers are accurate, that’s not good enough. And 2. Your solution is no less of an opiate, vague assertions with no definitive outline for success. We can educate until our faces turn blue and the education can be forgotten or ignored the second one leaves a classroom, we can prosecute and imprison with no regard for cost or effectiveness (the “war on drugs”being a prime example), and still have no solution to the underlying problem.

      • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/06/2015 - 07:12 pm.

        Agree to Disagree

        The numbers come from Pew Research and the Department of Justice. They’re accurate. So a continuing downward trend for the past twenty years isn’t good enough? Progress on this scale is what, failure?

        Education is a waste of time? That will come as quite a surprise to most educated people.

        Rather than prosecuting and imprisoning criminals for gun crimes we should what, decriminalize gun crime? Help me understand your positions.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/06/2015 - 07:28 pm.

          Education as a cure all is a failure yes

          As there must be follow through in order to succeed. How would you quantify your success. Yes as there are still many thousands of gun crimes annually that is not good enough when your target should be zero. How has the approach you advocate worked with regards to drugs?

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/06/2015 - 09:18 am.

      What I really think is the issue

      Is that it seems the pro gun crowd feels any solutions should come at zero cost to them, that there is some magic bullet (my apologies), that will engender no sacrifice from their side yet by some miracle will be palatable to the opposition. That’s simply not going to happen, and the more entrenched they become, the more they will.stand to lose if the opposition eventually secures the means to change the status quo.

      • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/06/2015 - 12:56 pm.

        What You Really Think is the Issue

        Tell me how you recommend changing the status quo. There are over 20,000 laws and regulations on the books regarding firearms. It’s one of the most heavily regulated industries we have. So, how does that equate to “zero cost”? I’m a responsible gun owner that spends a great deal of time, effort, and money assuring that my firearms are secured, handled, and used safely. Nothing is “zero cost” about being a responsible citizen.

  17. Submitted by jody rooney on 02/06/2015 - 11:00 am.

    It is people like Mr. Vick who

    will push moderates to activism, and he will not like the consequences.

  18. Submitted by Brent Gurtek on 02/06/2015 - 01:56 pm.

    same ………….

    Kevin,

    The DOJ data, while probably accurate and valuable for some purposes, tells us little about the true source of crime guns because it doesn’t work its way upstream (as guns pass through various hands) on their way to the legal-to-illegal “crossover” point.

    My point is essentially this: Assuming these inmates in the DOJ reports are telling the truth regarding the means of their gun acquisitions (& I expect that the vast majority of them are) they are only the end-user of the crime gun. They probably cannot tell the interviewer where &/or how their source got the gun, nor were they asked to – also if their source could pass a background check. My guess is many of these sources, whether they’re street dealers or friends/family, could not pass a BC. If so, universal BCs would cut down the number of illicit transfers.

    In any event, something doesn’t entirely jibe because the DOJ data greatly discounts gun theft as a source. They say it contributes only about 7% to 9% of the total crime gun number. I think this may be accurate, but only as a percentage of a percentage (as seen from the perspective of the crime gun end-user). So the DOJ data has to be taken into some more, complex context.

    It’s much the same way with the food processor I purchased at Glass Block. If you ask me where the food processor came from, I’ll say “It came from Glass Block”. But I don’t know where Glass Block acquired it for their inventory. And, if asked, I wouldn’t have an answer.

    (On a related point, do you feel that the BCs you perform have a safety value? Or do you feel the NICS system can be dropped with little or no effect on public safety?)

  19. Submitted by Kevin Vick on 02/06/2015 - 04:11 pm.

    same…….

    Feel free to offer any validated study you are aware of that conflicts with the Department of Justice Crime Statistics. What you’re offering is your opinion, not facts based on validated studies by credible sources.

  20. Submitted by Brent Gurtek on 02/06/2015 - 06:57 pm.

    same ….

    Kevin,

    You have a point here. There’s no data beyond these DOJ numbers. And I’m not sure the data to support my position exists since such records are quite sketchy. I’ll see what I can kick up on it. Still, I don’t think the DOJ data really tells us enough on crime gun sources because they’re based on end-user info. And I think gun theft is more of a factor than this data tends to show. (But who knows with undocumented issues?)

    I do, however, like the gun safety education ideas you, Pat and others have offered – especially if it includes safe gun storage. I see no reason why they should not be put into operation ASAP. Another ASAP measure would be to get tough & stay tough on violent offenders. (Who needs them on the streets, anyway?)

    Then there’s the law enforcement approach outlined in David Kennedy’s book, “Don’t Shoot Me!”. This turbo approach to pursuing violent criminals in big urban settings apparently gets incredible results at times. It should be promoted to police departments that have the will & resources to pursue it.

    When you think about it, the two distinct, opposing sides on the gun debate have been at each other’s throats for several decades. Yet they both vehemently abhor gun violence. Maybe it’s time they put aside their differences, at least for the time being, and work together on some effective measures on which they both agree. And these measures do exist. They may take up so much of both sides combined time & resources they’d likely spend their lives at it and never have time to get back to the fighting (which gets the country nowhere).

    This continued butting heads is not where it’s at. And it ain’t what I signed up fer.

  21. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/07/2015 - 05:19 am.

    The names on the bodies don’t count!

    Note the below link: It basically certifies that our gun toing friends on a relative global scale are proud of our US potion as the world leader (By a tremendous margin) over the entire planet. Some would refer to us as barbarous, our murder rate is 9X our closest gun death competitor.

    Don’t care what your argument is the bodies stacked like cord wood in America.is the real story. Don’t try to argue it away. The message I read is (We are fine with the number of people slaughtered in the US every year with guns) just don’t touch mine, and you should have one too!
    No response required, as an earlier poster noted: We have heard it all many, many, many, many times before, the more people armed the better off we all are!

    PS: When you all going to join the militia??

    http://www.humanosphere.org/science/2014/03/visualizing-gun-deaths-comparing-the-u-s-to-rest-of-the-world/

  22. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 02/09/2015 - 08:59 am.

    Help me Mr. Vick…

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    You right to bear arms is not unlimited, as stated above it has an express purpose: to support a well regulated militia. How can that militia be “well regulated” when they have no idea on the arms that they can count on in a time of need? It would seem that a well defined system of registration is in order to allow the militia to function is described in the second amendment.

    Or we could just recognize that the second amendment is as outdated as the third amendment which say’s that Army cannot commandeer your guest bedroom as lodging:

    “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law”.

    Mr. Vick and his cohorts very much like to pick and choose the parts of the constitution they like and treat them as if they are on stone tablets in the Arc of the Covnenat and take the ones they are not so keen on and act as if they are a 90 day free membership contract at their local health club.

  23. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/09/2015 - 10:41 am.

    There is a theme being established in these comments.

    Defenders of the 2nd amendment are calmly presenting irrefutable facts.

    Opponents of the 2nd amendment are presenting emotion and talking points. Especially telling are those who are attempting to reignite the meaning of “militia” after it has been established by the Supreme Court in Heller. Y’all may not like the ruling, but it’s history and case law now.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_of_Columbia_v._Heller

    It’s not working; none of it.

    This explains the left’s current push to somehow define gun ownership as a public health issue. They cannot win the debate on it’s merits, so they will now attempt to re-define the debate.

    It’s classic Alinsky:

    RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don’t address the “real” issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)

    RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

    The problem is, Alinsky never contemplated the necessity of having to attack the US Constitution directly, or maybe he did and didn’t like the possible outcomes and chose to undermine from a different direction.

    Personally, I welcome the fight, and am confident that our most important right, the right that back-stays all others, will be upheld and strengthened.

  24. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 02/09/2015 - 02:05 pm.

    And you were saying…

    Y’all may not like the ruling, but it’s history and case law now:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade

  25. Submitted by Claude Ashe on 02/09/2015 - 02:13 pm.

    America, your mindless polarization is showing…

    First, I’ll state that I am a lifelong, very left-leaning, anti-gun Democrat.

    Second, I’ll state that Kevin Vick and, (Lord help me) even Tommy Swift have a point here when they state that Vick is offering up statistics and well-defined arguments while Sellgren gives us only vague platitudes. And like with so many Internet arguments, those who agree with Sellgren rush to defend her empty pleas with impassioned smoke and mirrors.

    The anti-gun stance is a worthy one. And as such it deserves intelligent, persuasive debate. Sadly, we have become so conditioned of late to disagree with “them” (i.e., “the other guy who’s not ‘us'”) we rush into the fray— well, um… almost completely unarmed. Pardon the pun.

    As a lifelong, very left-leaning, pro-education Democrat who is also over 50, I’ll put this abysmal lack of rhetorical skills down to the fact that we rarely teach debate and critical thinking in schools anymore.

    So let’s put away the emotion and the team t-shirts and perhaps we could try to think more about the ideas and less about who utters them.

  26. Submitted by Brent Gurtek on 02/09/2015 - 06:39 pm.

    Applauding Claude

    Claude, I’d say you’re correct regarding the way discourse in this country has degenerated into mud slinging. And we’re all responsible, to some degree.
    Thanks for your input.

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