89, 89, 77, 67, 65.
What do these numbers have in common?
They represent the percentage of Americans who favor various gun-safety measures. But from St. Paul to Washington, D.C., none of them have become law.
89: The percent of people who favor universal background checks on sales.
89: The percent of people who favor extreme protection orders, better known as red-flag laws, which allow guns to be taken from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. About a dozen states, not including Minnesota, have passed them and they’ve been effective in preventing suicides.
77: The percent of people who support gun licensing.
67: The percent of people who want to restore the federal assault weapons ban, first passed 25 years ago and allowed to expire.
65: The percent of people who want to limit high-capacity magazines.
Restoring the assault weapons ban and limiting high-capacity magazines will save lives. It took a shooter all of 32 seconds to spray 41 rounds in Dayton, Ohio, this month in an attack that killed nine people and injured 27. Police on the scene responded in seconds. When police shot him dead, the killer still had dozens of bullets to go in his double-drum, 100-round magazine.
There’s one reason these proposals have not become law: Republicans.
In Washington, D.C., the Republican-controlled Senate blocks any attempt to even vote on gun safety. Earlier this year, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives approved wider background checks and a red-flag law. The background checks would not apply to gifts or loans between family members for hunting or use at a shooting range.
Our representative, Republican Tom Emmer, voted against both these bills.
Emmer voted against other gun-safety laws as well. In February 2017, Emmer voted to overturn an Obama Administration rule that kept guns from people who the Social Security Administration said could not manage their own finances.
This year, Emmer voted against the so-called “boyfriend loophole” to expand gun prohibitions to include dating partners convicted of abuse or stalking.
Last week at a town hall in St. Cloud, Emmer declined to say whether he would support gun-safety legislation.
No gun-safety legislation passed this session in St. Paul either.
Democrats controlled the Minnesota House and did approve two gun-safety actions, but the Republican-controlled Senate opposed them.
The first proposal would have expanded background checks to private gun sales. Exceptions would be made for firearm transfers to an immediate family member, transfers while hunting, at a shooting competition or at a gun range.
The second would have allowed law enforcement to remove a person’s firearms if they are believed to pose a danger to themselves or others.
When a conference committee worked to resolve differences between Senate and House versions of a crime-and-safety bill, Republicans blocked the gun-safety measures.
As of this past weekend, there have been 319 mass shootings, where four or more people were shot, this year in the United States. Those incidents resulted in 373 deaths and 1,238 injured people.
In 2018, more people died from firearms than any year since 1968, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were 39,773 gun deaths and about two-thirds were suicides.
Will these gun-safety proposals, awaiting action in St. Paul and Washington, D.C., stop all gun deaths?
Seat belts, air bags, driver training and stiffer DWI laws have not prevented all traffic deaths. But they have dramatically cut fatalities. Traffic deaths per miles traveled have declined by 70 percent since 1960.
What would success look like for gun safety? Would we be satisfied if we cut gun deaths by 25 percent? That’s 10,000 lives a year. By 50 percent? That’s 20,000 lives and tens of thousands more injuries.
We need to demand our Republican representatives vote with the people and not with their party.
Emmer in Washington, Reps. Lisa Demuth and Tim O’Driscoll and Sen. Jeff Howe in St. Paul need to vote for public safety or they should be voted out.