Implementing tougher gun laws will reduce gun violence. It’s a fact too many well-meaning people are choosing to ignore, even in light of two more horrific mass shootings.
The unwillingness of political leaders to reject this fact speaks to an ethical choice they have made to put the rights of owners of 393 million guns in America above the rights of our citizens to be safe at a Walmart, a concert, a church or a restaurant.
We applaud DFL Gov. Tim Walz for suggesting legislative hearings again before the start of the next session on the issues of gun violence. GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said he was not interested in plans for a hearing if they don’t include “solutions that work and have significant bipartisan support.”
Let’s think about that for a minute. Because Gazelka has made up his mind about what “works” and what “significant bipartisan support” looks like, he’s unwilling to even have a hearing. Gazelka does not believe broader background checks or red flag laws will help stem gun violence, even though both have been proven to work in other states.
Gazelka and the Minnesota GOP are on the wrong side of this issue. Some Republican governors like Mike DeWine of Ohio, after a horrific mass shooting in his state, say they will enhance background checks and implement red flag laws that allow family members with due process to remove guns from individuals deemed dangerous.
DeWine said he believes he has the support to pass the proposal with a Republican-led Legislature.
But the NRA’s hold on the Minnesota GOP is clear. Former Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, once famously said he would put forth no proposal on gun violence without the approval of the NRA. Gazelka seems in lock step with that.
In the 2018 election, the NRA spent $33,000 on phone banks and direct mail campaigns to push their gun violence agenda in Minnesota. It spent another about $12,000 contributing to Republican Party and GOP statehouse campaigns.
Strengthening guns laws isn’t about protecting Second Amendment rights, which will never be taken away. It’s about making an ethical choice to protect every future victim of a mass shooting.