A year has passed.
A year ago, we were focused on demonstrations and rallies supporting gun control safety legislation following the killing of 17 people at a Florida high school.
Skeptics doubted the public support would result in laws such as universal background checks, bans on assault-style weapons or high capacity magazines.
These measures are widely supported, for example, more than 90 percent of Americans are in favor of universal background checks.
The powerful gun lobby has blocked any legislation. In the 2016 election cycle, the gun lobby poured $55 million dollars into campaigns. Donald Trump benefited from more than $31 million gun lobby money donated to support his campaign and oppose Hillary Clinton.
The skeptics were not entirely right. Democrats now control the U.S. House of Representatives and in St. Paul, Democrats control the state House, with Republicans holding a one-seat advantage in the Senate.
The election resulted in gun safety legislation finally getting a vote. For these proposals to become law, citizens need to push Republicans to join the cause.
In Washington, the House passed two bills that address background check issues.
HR 1112 would require a gun dealer to wait up to 20 business days, as opposed to three under current law, to hear from the FBI regarding an individual’s background check in instances in which no immediate determination on the individual had been made, before being allowed to complete the sale or transfer of a firearm. The bill would also modify the language that prohibits the sale of firearms to individuals on the basis of mental illness to bar sales to individuals “adjudicated with mental illness, severe developmental disability, or severe emotional instability.” The bill passed 228 – 198, with Rep. Tom Emmer opposing it along with 190 other Republicans.
HR 8 would require most purchasers of firearms to undergo a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, including all sales and transfers of firearms through public and private purchases. The bill would specify instances in which a background check could be skipped at the time of a firearm’s transfer, including when transferred as a loan or gift between family members, when transferred for hunting or fishing purposes or when transferred for use in a shooting range, so long as the weapon remains in the presence of its owner.
It passed 240 – 190 with Emmer and 187 other Republicans opposing it.
In St. Paul, a bill to allow law enforcement and family members to petition a court to prohibit people from possessing firearms if they pose a significant danger to themselves or others by possessing a firearm is moving through House committees. A similar bill appears stalled in the Senate.
Also in the Senate, a bill introduced by three Democrats to tighten background checks is also stalled.
Prove the skeptics totally wrong. Contact your state legislators.
Sen. Jeff Howe (District 13)
95 University Avenue W.
Minnesota Senate Building, Room 3231
St. Paul, MN 55155
Rep. Lisa Demuth (District 13A)
223 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
Rep. Tim O’Driscoll (District 13B)
237 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
Not all political leaders move slowly. New Zealand’s coalition government plans to unveil gun law reforms within the next week in response to a deadly shooting rampage at two mosques last week. These could include restricting the military-style semiautomatic weapons that were used in the attacks, which left 50 Muslim worshipers dead.
The government’s decision has been in part motivated by the frequency of mass shootings in the United States, which has among the most lax gun laws in the world. Since the beginning of the year, there have been 58 mass shooting incidents in the United States and 2,826 people have died from gun violence.
A year from now let’s make sure the gun safety skeptics are out of business.