The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 16, 2013

In the gun debate, is there common ground?


“Banning swimming pools and banning guns won’t keep children safe,” Bruels said.

Saying law-abiding citizens should be allowed to protect themselves, Purvis also reminds everyone that he has firsthand experience with using a firearm to defend himself against an armed criminal. It was April 16, 1990, when Purvis interrupted a North Mankato bank robbery. He confronted the robber as the man attempted to escape in a pickup. Standing about 6 feet apart with the pickup between them, each man shot three times. The robber missed. Purvis didn’t.

“I actually felt the wind of one of the bullets go by my head,” he said.

Mental health issue

Both Todd Miller, Mankato director of public safety, and Brad Peterson, Blue Earth County sheriff, said they are comfortable with Minnesota’s existing firearm laws. However, they also said they back a Minnesota Sheriffs Association proposal that would provide more access to mental health records for firearm background checks.

“We don’t know that information now because of laws that protect medical data,” Miller said. “When you have someone who has mental health issues, they should be prohibited from owning guns.

“I think we need to do a lot better job of dealing with and reporting mental health problems. We also need to do more with families being willing to step forward. How many times, when you look at a national incident or heinous crime, people say, ‘Oh, we knew something was wrong.’”

Julie Soper doesn’t own a gun because she really doesn’t like them much, but she also believes it’s a constitutional right to own guns. The president of Mankato’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness also said people have a right to privacy. She doesn’t support giving law enforcement anymore access to mental health records.

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