Preventing gun violence in Minnesota is a priority for everyone this legislative session. Everyone except Minnesota conservatives.
While we tend to think of gun violence as crime that happens in public spaces, the fatal use of guns is much more nuanced. Protect Minnesota, a gun violence prevention organization, reports that suicide by firearm accounts for nearly 70 percent of gun deaths across the state, revealing the necessity of centering mental health in the gun violence prevention conversation.
Research shows that though the pandemic has exacerbated gun violence, much of that gun use happens inside the home. The pandemic resulted in millions of children out of school while gun sales hit record highs, bringing more guns into homes. Unintentional shootings by children inside the home increased by nearly one-third in 2020.
We also saw an increase in gun threats toward survivors of intimate partner violence and domestic abuse.
Minnesota is not immune to these increases in gun violence and the need for legislative action is clear. Minnesotans widely support safeguarding the gun purchasing process; polling in 2020 showed that our state supports stronger gun safety laws by a 5:1 margin and the overwhelming majority of Minnesotans support background checks on all gun sales.
Throughout the last few legislative sessions, progressives in the legislature have introduced bills to pass criminal background checks and enact extreme risk protection orders, measures that would prevent gun violence by safeguarding the process of gun ownership.
However, all these efforts have been blocked by conservatives who instead have pushed for dangerous permitless carry measures and gun-lobby crafted “Stand Your Ground” legislation.
Governor Walz has expressed his desire for elected officials in the legislature to reach solutions to prevent gun violence.
However, conservative Senate majority leader Jeremy Miller has explicitly expressed that he doesn’t foresee ANY gun violence prevention measures moving through the Minnesota Senate.
It’s time for action and it’s time for gun violence prevention. Enough is enough.