Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Rally by gun-control advocates didn’t change Thissen’s mind

MinnPost photo by James Nord
House Speaker Paul Thissen: "I want to take votes on the House floor that are actually going to get something done to prevent gun violence, and I have less of an interest of doing a symbolic vote that is going to fail."

House Speaker Paul Thissen reaffirmed this week that the House will not take up gun-control legislation this session, even though advocates stormed the Capitol on Friday to demand a vote on the contentious issue.

A coalition of groups advocating for so-called “universal background checks” and other tightened firearms restrictions protested Thissen’s decision to drop the controversial legislation on the grounds that it wouldn’t be able to pass in the House.

DFL Rep. Michael Paymar, who sponsored the legislation, has criticized the House speaker’s change of heart as a “breach” of a commitment to get a gun-control bill to the floor.

“It seems to me that Speaker Thissen is trying to protect the caucus,” said Sami Rahamim at the Friday press conference. His father, Reuven Rahamim, was killed in the Accent Signage shooting last year.

But Thissen said on Monday that he wants to tackle issues where he can make headway.

“I want to take votes on the House floor that are actually going to get something done to prevent gun violence, and I have less of an interest of doing a symbolic vote that is going to fail and, in fact, may set back the cause of trying to reduce gun violence in a negative way,” Thissen said. “I just don’t see how that’s productive.”

“No” was the short answer when asked if the anti-gun violence press conference/rally changed his mind.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 05/07/2013 - 11:01 am.

    Thissen is, unfortunately, right…

    And is a smart politician, this term being used in a complimentary way.

    The difference between the GOP and the DFL in Minnesota seems to be that the GOP wants it all or else nothing. The DFL is willing to take half a loaf. And compromise is at the heart of successful politics.

    If a gun control bill were defeated this term, those who believe that it was the right thing to do would never hear the end of it. Witness the small but vociferous crowd of armed gunsels who showed up earlier in session in an obvious attempt to intimidate the House and Senate.

    Meanwhile, the DFL is lined up to, hopefully, pass a same sex marriage bill. This opportunity being handed to them by the over-reach of the GOP last session. There was no need to put a stick in the eye of those who believe in same sex marriage. The push back from this obviously crass move was felt immediately.

    So take the long view. Pretty clear how the public feels about gun control. Universal background checks will happen eventually, as surely as same sex marriage, although perhaps on a different time scale.

    • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 05/07/2013 - 01:58 pm.

      Gleason seems to be counterposing any gun control measure passing the House this session and approving gay marriage. “Take the long view,” he says, and go for gay marriage, waiting your turn for even the mildest measure of control of gun violence in Minnesota.

      I find that appalling. For one thing, there is much more support (between 80 and 90%, minimum) for universal background checks for those buying guns than there currently is for gay marriage. For another–and here I’ll be politically incorrect–the urgency of controlling gun violence is so much greater than the need for immediate rights to gay marriage that it simply takes ones breath away to see the two issues posed as equally compelling.

      Of course, a lot of political energy and a lot of money are on the side of gay marriage. It’s just the plain folk, mostly in cities, who want not to be shot. So, we’ll have to wait. Do people see how ridiculous this either-or is?

      I continue to believe that we can have both. And have them now. Rep. Thissen has no other reason than to avoid political embarassment for the DFL behind his refusal even to bring the gun control issue to the House floor.

      • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 05/07/2013 - 11:09 pm.

        I am sorry that you are appalled by my analysis, Ms. Sullivan,

        but that is the way I see it.

        My problem is with your last paragraph.

        “I continue to believe that we can have both.”

        I simply don’t believe that this is the case. We are going to have a hard enough time getting legislators in sensitive districts to vote for same sex marriage let alone do this AND vote for gun control. Ask Representative Melin and Senator Bakk about their positions on gun control. It is not just Republicans for whom gun control is a problem.

        And it isn’t just that “Rep. Thissen has no other reason than to avoid political embarrassment…”
        I would guess that he has the same concern that I do about letting gun control torpedo the same sex marriage bill.

        And make no mistake, I consider gun control to be a serious issue. My solution is the one a lawyer friend in New Orleans, who is a prosecutor, suggested: universal background checks and registration of all firearms. Possession of an unregistered firearm to be considered a felony.

  2. Submitted by Dee Ann Christensen on 05/07/2013 - 11:09 am.

    No Vote: No Money

    On the other hand, I believe the voters of Minnesota deserve to know where their elected representatives stand on the use of background checks for controlling gun violence. Speaker Thissen, needs to show the leadership that his position demands and bring this bill to the floor.

    Many of us in the DFL party have determined we will not give money to any member of the DFL caucus who does not vote for background checks.

    No vote; no money!

    • Submitted by Matt Touchette on 05/07/2013 - 02:11 pm.

      Alternatively, you could be proactive and ask your representatives where they stand in regards to certain proposed legislation. It’s your responsibility as a voter to know who you’re voting for, and it’s the responsibility of those we elect to actually make legislation. Why waste their (legislators) and the tax payer’s time for a vote that will fail? Would it not be more effective to get laws on the books? If there is time before the end of the session, maybe then they can re-address legislation that is unlikely to pass.

  3. Submitted by Pat Watson on 05/07/2013 - 11:55 am.

    “Stormed the Capitol” on Friday?

    Hardly. They had their standard 12 participants, and handed out signs to another 6-8 passersby.

    Of those 12 participants, 4 are PAID by out of state political groups (Joyce, Brady, MAIG), etc…

  4. Submitted by Dee Ann Christensen on 05/07/2013 - 08:14 pm.


    Legislators can change their minds about legislation until their vote is recorded. This decision is about future elections. I wonder if there will be any gun deaths that could have been avoided before the next legislative session.

    I do agree though that ” it’s the responsibility of those we elect to actually make legislation.”

Leave a Reply