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‘I trust Minnesota to fix this’: Walz exhorts rally on gun violence

With the sound of the Gov. Tim Walz-led chant of “Do something NOW” still echoing through the Minnesota state Capitol grounds Wednesday evening, word came from the podium at “Honor Them With Action — Rally Against Gun Violence and Hate” in St. Paul of shootings in Maplewood and a locked-down Regions Hospital. This after a week that shocked the nation, with 31 dead and a dozen more wounded in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

The sickening meta-news sent a shudder through the St. Paul crowd, gathered as they’d been to pay somber homage to the shooting victims of El Paso, Dayton, Gilroy, Sandy Hook, Columbine, etc., etc., and to yet again demand of Minnesota’s leaders stricter gun laws. With flags flying at half-staff over the Capitol dome, Walz’s speech proved impassioned, forceful, and practical.

“As someone who served 24 years in the military, I’m very familiar with these weapons. I’ve shot everything from 9 millimeters to cannon and rocket launchers, and I’ll tell you what I learned by that — and that is the damn things don’t belong on the streets of our country,” said Walz, flanked by a backdrop of Minnesota lawmakers and leaders that included MN Moms Demand Action co-leader Molly Leutz, Lt. Gov.  Peggy Flanagan, Rep. Dean Phillips, Imam Asad Zaman of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, Sami Rahamim of the Jewish Community Relations Council, state Sen. Ron Latz, and more.

On a day that brought angry protesters to Trump’s visits to Dayton and El Paso, leaders in Minnesota raised their voices against racism and violence. “Change is coming, but it’s going to take relentless work,” said Philips, with a desperation and determination that was obviously shared by Walz and all concerned.

“All of you have to keep at it,” Choi told the crowd. “People talk about this tipping point, but this is tipped.”

“I’ll tell you what, I’m not waiting on Mitch McConnell. I trust Minnesota to fix this,” said Walz, after suggesting the state Legislature not wait until next session to vote on a gun-control bill.

Perhaps the rally’s most poignant response to the constant carnage came not from a politician but from a teenager from Eagan, who broke down in tears when detailing her fears to MinnPost. “I’m 14 years old,” said Jayna Anderson, as her mother consoled her. “I’m entering high school, and my main fear is getting killed while I’m at school.”

MinnPost took in the “Honor Them With Action — Rally Against Gun Violence and Hate” (co-presented by nonprofits Protect Minnesota and Moms Demand Action), in words and photos:

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Leslie Simone Firkins, Oakdale: “I take to heart every single one of these big shootings we hear about. I’m involved with Moms Demand Action, Protect Minnesota, and also Survivors Lead.

“I’ll do whatever I can. It feels good to look around here and realize it’s not just me, it’s not just my kids, it’s not just other teachers that are out there worrying. It’s all of us. And they’ve done polls: Most of Minnesota wants these laws. I mean, look around at all these people who came out. For me, I needed this. I was pretty dark after the weekend.”     

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Tom Peterson, Minneapolis: “I was in Vietnam and carried an automatic weapon the whole time I was there, and I know what guns do. And since coming back, I’ve just never wanted to have anything to do with them. I’m sure if I had had one, I probably would have ended my life many times over the course of my life. I don’t want anyone to have a gun. I don’t think they’re very safe.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Phyllis Kerr, Woodland, Minnesota: “Our only choice we have right now is to keep showing up. We have nothing coming from the White House, and it’s pitiful. I think our president is ignorant. I think he is lazy. I think he is self-centered. I think he should never have been president to begin with, and it’s putting a lot of stalling in many parts of our country and many different ways and this one is enormously important. To have the NRA taking over in this respect, that kids don’t feel safe in school, people don’t feel safe going to Walmart … this is no way to live. We have to do better, we are better, there’s a whole bunch of better people out here, standing around us right now. If we continue to grow in our numbers, we can make a big difference. But we have to participate. We wait for action, but sometimes we’re the ones that need to act. I’m very sad with the way the nation is being led right now, and with these gatherings we have the opportunity to search for that better leadership, that better leadership within each one of us.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Mary McCann, Minneapolis: “[Trump] is just repeating what he’s learned and what all these other fellas might think. He’s not unique. He’s just the president, which makes it a shame that he is unable to even modify his speech on behalf of all of us. I would ask our leaders to really educate themselves, and not in a superficial way. Listen to doctors and academics and people in the community and experts in the arts; everybody who has reflected in a meaningful way about where this [racism] comes from.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

MN Moms Demand Action co-leader Molly Leutz spoke to a crowd that included Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Rep. Dean Phillips, Imam Asad Zaman of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, Sami Rahamim of the Jewish Community Relations Council, state Sen. Ron Latz, and more.

“Let us be moved tonight to come together in community,” said Leutz. “To honor with action in a collective effort to fight gun violence everywhere. To disarm hate, white nationalism, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, Islamaphobia, anti-semitism, homophobia, transphobia, and bigotry in all forms that fuel violence. Let us demand action from our elected officials. Demand background checks on all gun sales. And strong red flag laws. We are grief stricken. We are angry. And it’s sometimes scary. But we are determined, and by this crowd I know we will keep showing up.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

The American and Minnesota state flags flew at half-staff in honor of victims of gun violence at the state Capitol Wednesday.

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Gov. Tim Walz gestured to the half-staff American flag and addressed the “Honor Them With Action — Rally Against Gun Violence and Hate” crowd: “We see our flags once again flying at half-staff, and the sadness, and anger, and the primal rage that every time you see that, knowing what that symbolizes? That’s a birthday that will never happen. That’s a wedding that will never happen. That’s a grandparent that will never hold that child.

“Understand me and trust me, as someone who served 24 years in the military, I’m very familiar with these weapons. I’ve shot everything from 9 millimeters to cannon and rocket launchers, and I’ll tell you what I learned by that, and that is the damn things don’t belong on the streets of our country. I also know I spent a lifetime enjoying the outdoors and the freedoms that come with responsible firearms ownership, of hunting with my father, of being able to do the things that you enjoy doing in the outdoors and protecting that. And guess what? The things that we’re proposing to reduce senseless violence on our streets do nothing to infringe upon your right as a lawful gun owner to do those things. Nothing.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Dave Garibaldi (far left), Osseo: “[U.S. Sen.] Mitch McConnell has blocked the exact same bills that were blocked here at the state [Legislature] by Warren Limmer, who is my senator, and [Majority Leader] Paul Gazelka, and I think it’s high time that common-sense gun laws are put in place that can save some lives. This past week has proven to be another tragic time. We’ve just got to do something, so we’re here.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Anne Benson and Sadie Benson, Roseville: “I think the most important thing to remember is that at this point it’s happening so much we’re becoming desensitized to it,” said Anne. “I remember Sandy Hook the most vividly because that was the first big one that I can remember in my lifetime. At this point you’re hearing it so much that it’s easy to say, ‘That’s how it is now,’ but that shouldn’t be how it is now.” “Sometimes I don’t feel very safe in school, and I want to feel safe in school,” said Sadie. “I just hear it a lot on the news, and I feel bad for the kids who go through all that trauma.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Imam Asad Zaman of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota addressed the crowd: “I want to make a confession to you. I am one of those Minnesotans who does not want to get shot. So Minnesota voters who are against getting shot need to prioritize Minnesota legislators who will protect that right for me. I have another confession to make. As many of you may have noticed, I am not white. And the white supremacist ideology scares the Bejeezus out of me. ‘Bejeezus’ is a technical term. It means I’m very, very afraid.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Lisa Nilles, Minneapolis: “I made this sign after the Parkland shootings. I don’t want to carry this sign anymore. I don’t want to keep coming back here.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Beth Dawson, Eden Prairie: “I made this sign after the Parkland shooting. It’s insanity to think that things will get better if we don’t do something different.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Marla Vagts, Farmington: “I have two new grand babies, and when I heard the story of the couple who shielded their own child [in the El Paso Walmart], both of them passed away … The time for inaction is over. Families are dying.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Jayna Anderson and Jolynda Anderson, Eagan: “My daughter asked me to come. She’s a really strong advocate for human rights and she always keeps me up to date with what’s going on in the world, and we owe more to our kids to keep them safe, because it just keeps getting worse and worse,” said Jolynda. “I’m entering high school and I’m really scared,” said Jayna, wiping tears from her cheeks. “I’m really scared about a lot of things, like classes and homework and things, but my main fear is getting killed while I’m at school. School has always been a safe place, and it’s not a safe place anymore because there’s a fear of running through your classrooms getting shot. My friends and I, we all know if an active shooter came in, where would we hide, and the fact that I’m only 14 and I have to ask myself where I would hide and have to know these answers, it’s just horrible. And I can’t sit around, I have to do something.”

Comments (24)

  1. Submitted by Pat Terry on 08/08/2019 - 10:52 am.

    Yeah, I’m pretty confident we’re gonna do nothing.

  2. Submitted by Andy Briebart on 08/08/2019 - 12:07 pm.

    Most of the “mass killers” bought their guns legally and passed a NICS background check. The other used stolen guns.

    So how are Universal Background Checks going to make us safer? The mass killers are already getting a background check? Will gang members get back ground checks?

    Are these people naive or being dishonest?

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 08/08/2019 - 12:59 pm.

      Maybe the background checks should screen out guys like Ohio shooter who got into trouble in high school for compiling a “kill list” and a “rape list” with the names of his classmates. How about we don’t let guys like that buy high powered guns.

      • Submitted by Andy Briebart on 08/08/2019 - 02:43 pm.

        He already passed a NICS background check. You just made my point.

        “Doing Something” would be passing the FIX NICS act. It almost passed last year in the US House and Senate and Trump said he would have signed it. Both sides starting adding amendments to it and finally killed the bill.

        Go to look at the state ratings. This bill is to make state reporting to the national database more complete. Many of these killers had past records that states and even our armed forces failed to report to NICS. “Universal Background Checks” will do no good if the system is getting good data.

        The states that have “universal background checks” don’t have people volunteering to use the system for a gun purchase. Check it out.

        Once again, naive or misleading?

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 08/09/2019 - 12:02 am.

          No, your point is still nonsense. My point is that the background check has to be able to pick up things like the obvious clues this guy was likely to do this.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 08/08/2019 - 01:49 pm.

      Do speed limits make us safer? Do stop signs make us safer?

      • Submitted by joe smith on 08/08/2019 - 02:11 pm.

        For the 99% of us who follow the speed limit and stop signs, yes. For those who don’t follow the speed limit and stop signs, no! As a matter of fact, the guy who blows through a stop sign and T-bones you, catches you by surprise with his breaking the law. Unfortunately for you, all your following the laws didn’t help you one bit from a lawless person and a crash.

        • Submitted by ian wade on 08/08/2019 - 03:00 pm.

          So your contention is that laws don’t make any difference?

          • Submitted by Andy Briebart on 08/08/2019 - 03:49 pm.

            No, he’s not saying that. 99% of gun owners follow the laws. The 1% don’t.

            There are three million estimated scary black guns in the United States. Not even 1 % of them are creating evil with them.

            More gun laws on the law abiding will not make our country safer.

            • Submitted by ian wade on 08/08/2019 - 04:44 pm.

              False equivalence. If a gun manufacturer put a out a new weapon and 1% of them malfunctioned causing death or dismemberment, I guarantee that you would want something done about it.

              • Submitted by Andy Briebart on 08/09/2019 - 09:17 am.

                But one percent of the guns aren’t failing.

                Are car manufacturers responsible for evil people ramming cars into crowded public squares killing people?

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 08/09/2019 - 12:27 am.

          Actually, its none of those things. Other countries have the same issues. But not the same amount of guns or lax guns laws. Nothing even correlates. Except guns.

          Its guns. Just guns. Always been guns.

          • Submitted by Deidre Kellogg Ketroser on 12/14/2019 - 08:03 pm.

            Well said. We are a Gun nation. They are too prevalent and too easy to get. It’s the guns, not just those who misuse them. Guns have become the first “go-to” now, not the last choice. It’s so wrong.

  3. Submitted by joe smith on 08/08/2019 - 02:03 pm.

    There are over 1 million cases of murder, rape and assault in America per year, what “new” law would stop that? Lawless people don’t follow laws. Mass shootings are a societal problem, the more our society breaks down the more you’ll see this happening. Lack of a strong family, lack of religion, lack of understanding others, too much time alone on the internet, not enough time with actual people, lack of purpose all these issues contribute to a disturbed mind.
    No law will correct this but a new law will make certain folks feel better. Normal people, who would never think of doing something this outrageous, will feel better, while the next psycho is planning his crazy attack.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 08/08/2019 - 03:05 pm.

      The fact is that the mentally ill are for more likely to hurt themselves rather than others. You can continue to retch up the same tired laundry list that conservatives have been hanging on to for decades. The bottom line is no other country has the mass shootings we do because no the country has untethered access to weapons like the US does. How many more parents have to bury their kids before you folks finally admit it?

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/08/2019 - 02:38 pm.

    “As someone who served 24 years in the military, I’m very familiar with these weapons. I’ve shot everything from 9 millimeters to cannon and rocket launchers and I’ll tell you what I learned by that — and that is the damn things don’t belong on the streets of our country.” Wow, that’s amazing since Walz never saw combat in those 24 years, most of which were spent on the European continent as an Army store keeper.

    Is someone suggesting that cannons and rocket launchers be legal for civilian use now? And he can’t be talking about the 8 million ARs that are legally owned, which make it the most popular rifle in the country. He’s just trying to confuse the rubes with such nonsensical rhetoric.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 08/08/2019 - 04:47 pm.

      Nonsensical rhetoric is trying to claim that a vet would need to see combat in order to be trained in the use of various weapons.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 08/09/2019 - 12:29 am.

      Questioning a guy’s military service? Awesome. But since its ok for 5-time deferment bone spurs Trump to mock John McCain’s service, why not.

  5. Submitted by Robert Ahles on 08/08/2019 - 04:53 pm.

    Hunters have used semi-automatic rifles to hunt here in Minnesota and nationally for many, many years. What you now call an “assault rifle” looks kind of scary but it probably does not shoot any faster than other semi-automatic hunting rifles that have been around for years.

    Wisconsin has recently changed hunting regulations to allow anyone to hunt regardless of age. I personally would not feel safe in the woods with young children carrying and firing any type of weapon. For me to feel safe I would like to know that hunting regulations address training (firearm safety courses) and probably maturity too as I’d get nervous hunting in the same woods with a five or seven year-old.

    Most responsible hunters shouldn’t need more than one or two shots to kill a big game animal or even a coyote or fox. As a hunter, and not an NRA member, I would support regulations limiting the size of magazines to four or five rounds as there really is no need for 10 to 30 round magazines for either hunters or target shooters. Actually you can hunt waterfowl in Minnesota with a semi-automatic shotgun but you are limited to three rounds in the gun at any one time.

    I would also support legislation banning bump stocks or any other method or device which could convert a semi-automatic rifle into a fully automatic weapon, or machine gun.

    Most importantly I would hope our lawmakers would expand regulations relating to background checks and waiting periods.

    I would not support legislation which would increase the age from 18 to 21 to allow a person to buy a rifle. We have many young people hunting in the fields and woods of Minnesota who are much younger than 18. For many of the youth it is a source of pride to be able to save enough money and buy your own rifle or shotgun. I was able to buy my first shotgun at the age of 12 from money I saved from my paper route. I also served in Vietnam with young men that were 18, 19, and 21 years old and if we can expect them to use these weapons in combat then we should allow them to own other types of rifles when they return home, even if they are under the age of 21.

    I have been upset with the NRA for many years as it has absolutely no plans to address gun safety here in the Country that I love. I think twice, many more, when considering a vote for someone that is accepting contributions from the NRA.

    • Submitted by Andy Briebart on 08/08/2019 - 09:14 pm.

      2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting.

      So, if there are an estimated three million scary black guns out there, and the standard issue magazine is 30 rounds, and most owners have at least 3 magazines, that makes nine million magazines in circulation.

      Then, the talk of gun control starts happening. Midway USA or cheaper than dirt sell them for $12 each instead of $15 when you buy ten. Well people are now stocking up a p-mags in bundles of ten

      What’s a ban going to do?

      • Submitted by Robert Ahles on 08/11/2019 - 08:07 am.

        Why do you need an assault style weapon with a 30 round magazine? What is wrong with comprehensive background checks? You seem to suggest that nothing needs to be done.

  6. Submitted by Lydia Lucas on 08/09/2019 - 07:39 pm.

    What several of the commenters are saying, basically, is that since we can’t make everything perfect, there’s absolutely no point in even thinking about trying to do ANYTHING. About as irresponsible a cop-out as you can find. Or maybe a way to try to squelch attempts to do anything.

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 08/15/2019 - 07:03 am.

      That’s because they have no argument to make. They sound like all the hysterics down through history on any issue.

      I think we as a nation do what we have always done for fire arms not deemed suitable for the general public. Require registration and a permit for all guns that shot more than 7 bullets without reloading. Permits and registration can be free so there would be no economic barrier to getting a permit.

      On the other hand most gun deaths in Minnesota are suicide.

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