Groups rally for gun control laws as the Legislative session begins

Two separate anti-gun violence groups joined forces Tuesday at the Capitol, calling for lawmakers to pass two new bills as the 2019 Legislative session started.

One group is calling for universal background checks on all gun transfers. The other wants to create red flag protection orders, allowing authorities to confiscate firearms from troubled individuals.

“Those two laws have been shown over and over again in public health studies; they really work,” said Rev. Nancy Nord Bence of Protect Minnesota. “They save lives.”

Across the country, 20 states and the District of Columbia have some form of background checks that go beyond federal law. Eleven of those states require the background checks on all firearms transfers.

The new Democratic leadership in U.S. Congress introduced its own bill Tuesday on universal background checks. It’s all timed to mark the 8th anniversary of the Tuscon, Arizona shooting that killed six people and severely injured former Representative Gabby Giffords.

At the Minnesota Capitol, the proposed bills have the backing of new Governor Tim Walz.

“I have rejected and many of you know my history on this, I think it absolutely possible to protect second amendment rights of lawful gun owners and do things that are statistically proven to reduce the chances of either accidents or intentional shootings,” Governor Walz.  

Any gun legislation, however, faces an uphill battle in the state Senate where Republicans hold the majority and want to attack the issue with a different approach. 

Senator Carla Nelson is among Republicans who instead want to focus on securing schools and mental health.

“One in five people have some mental health that requires some treatment of care,” said Sen. Nelson (R-Rochester). “We want to provide access to that and you can see that coming right away in safe and secure schools.”