The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 16, 2013

In the gun debate, is there common ground?

Something about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut has taken the country’s ongoing gun debate into new territory, including an unprecedented push for new firearms legislation in Minnesota.

Maybe it’s the thought of 20 young children in Newtown being shot at close range as they stood stunned and confused in a place where they thought they were safe. It could be the idea of innocent teachers losing their lives as they attempted to save those children. Or it might be the fact that the man who killed his mother before the rampage, and himself after, had mental health problems that should have kept him from having access to the weapons he used.

“It was so horrifying with all those little children,” said Diane Norland, North Mankato city councilwoman. “It was so hideous thinking about the teachers who used their bodies to protect the kids.

“It was so horrible that maybe it finally shook people from their apathy. It’s tragic that it took that.”

There have been two major incidents involving guns in North Mankato since the Sandy Hook shooting Dec. 14.

Police found several guns, numerous loaded gun magazines, loose ammunition, methamphetamine and a large amount of marijuana in a North Ridge neighborhood house Jan. 20. The owner of the house, 29-year-old Michael Donald Caya, was living there with his wife and two young children. He allegedly told police he was stockpiling weapons to protect his family and neighbors from the government.

On Jan. 17 an elderly man was shot and killed by police after a standoff at his North Mankato residence at the corner of Lee Boulevard and Lo Ray Drive. Police said they were checking on his welfare and called in a tactical response team because the man had several guns and was making threats. Lloyd Hodgson Tschohl, 83, was shot after he came out of the house firing two handguns at officers.

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