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Star Tribune Editorial: “Gun safety should not be a partisan issue”

March 17, 2020

In a searing editorial over the weekend, the Minneapolis Star Tribune Editorial Board lambasted Minnesota Senate Republicans for blocking popular, research-backed measures to prevent gun violence. Much like in 2019, Senate Republicans are refusing to hold a public hearing on the background check and red flag legislation that just passed the House, notably excluding the bills from a hearing in the Minnesota Senate Judiciary committee — instead hearing proposals that the Board said “appeared to be designed more to score political points than address genuine needs.” 

The Board noted that background checks and extreme risk laws have overwhelming support across the state from Minnesotans, the Minnesota County Attorneys Association, and the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, which represents 300 active police chiefs and another 150 commands staff at agencies across the state.  

The Editorial Board writes: 

“Minnesotans have made clear over and over their preference for stronger gun laws. When will state Senate Republicans get that message?

Glaringly absent from those proposals are two measures Minnesotans have said they want and that data support as effective: universal background checks for gun purchases and red-flag laws that temporarily get guns out of the hands of those deemed a danger to themselves or others
Gun safety should not be a partisan issue.”

On average, Minnesota has 424 gun deaths every year and gun deaths have increased 26 percent in the last decade. New voter research shows that voters in Minnesota support stronger gun safety laws by a 5:1 margin.

In 2018, Minnesotans flipped the Minnesota House of Representatives to a gun sense majority and elected Governor Tim Walz (D), who campaigned strongly on the issue of gun safety. This month, the Minnesota House passed background check legislation and a red flag bill, but the Republican-controlled state Senate refuses to take a vote or hold a public hearing.

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund recently released its second round of digital ads hitting Republican Senators for blocking the House-passed background check and red flag bills, as part of its $250,000 digital campaign to pressure lawmakers to support more gun safety solutions.

More on background check and red flag laws:

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. In October, Minneapolis Star Tribune polling showed for the second straight year that more than four in five Minnesotans support requiring background checks on all gun sales. 

Extreme risk laws are a powerful tool to prevent gun violence, including school shootings, mass shootings, and suicide. Already, red flag laws have been enacted in 18 other states, including nearby Colorado, and the District of Columbia. In Minnesota, nearly 80 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.

Read the full editorial here. 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 any questions, or would like to speak with volunteers with Minnesota Moms Demand Action or Students Demand Action or survivors of gun violence, please don’t hesitate to reach out. 

If you're a member of the media, please send inquiries to [email protected]