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As COVID Continues to Exacerbate Gun Violence, Minnesota Lawmakers Should Prioritize Gun Violence Prevention in 2021 Legislative Session

January 5, 2021

Minnesota’s legislative session begins today, and state lawmakers have the opportunity to take up common-sense gun legislation. Gun violence prevention is more important than ever in the new year as the pandemic continues to exacerbate gun violence, and after a year of increased gun sales, continued police violence, increased risk of suicide and domestic violence, and an increase in city gun violence. 

Top priorities for lawmakers should be passing background checks and extreme risk legislation, supporting and funding local violence intervention programs and expanding efforts to prevent police violence and create police accountability. On average, Minnesota has 424 gun deaths every year — 79% of which are gun suicides — and gun deaths in the state have increased 26% in the last decade. Polling shows that voters in Minnesota support stronger gun safety laws by a 5:1 margin.

Here’s what to know about background check and extreme risk legislation: Background Checks

  • Background checks are the best way to enforce gun possession laws. Background checks stop sales to prohibited people every day. Since 1994, over 3.5 million sales have been blocked to violent criminals and other prohibited people. In 2017 alone, over 170,000 sales were denied—39 percent of them to convicted felons.
  • Most Minnesotans support background checks on all gun sales. Polling in 2020 showed that Minnesotans support stronger gun safety laws by a 5:1 margin and the overwhelming majority of Minnesotans support background checks.

Extreme Risk Laws

  • Extreme risk laws — also known as red flag laws — are a powerful tool to prevent gun violence, including school shootings, mass shootings, and suicide. Already, red flag laws have been implemented in 19 other states. Enacting a red flag law would allow family members and law enforcement officers to intervene before tragedy strikes by seeking a court order to temporarily remove guns from people exhibiting warning signs that they pose a danger to themselves or others.
  • Extreme risk laws are a powerful tool to intervene when it comes to suicide. In Minnesota, 79 percent of all gun deaths are from gun suicide – equalling an average of 26 hours between gun suicide deaths. Also, the gun suicide rate in the most rural counties of the state is twice as high than in the most urban areas. 

Statistics about gun violence in Minnesota are available here, and information on how Minnesota’s gun laws compare to other states’ overall is available here.

If you have questions, or to request an interview with a volunteer from Minnesota Moms Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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