ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Minnesota Rep. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, began a 24-hour sit-in on the House floor Tuesday to protest a lack of any movement on gun control bills in the Legislature, telling the stories of both victims and survivors of gun violence in an effort to force action on the issue.
A recent Star Tribune poll found 90 percent of Minnesotans favor mandatory background checks for gun owners and a majority support stricter gun control laws, but despite rallies and student marches, none of the gun control bills proposed this session have been voted on by the full House.
Soon after the sit-in began, Maye Quade said the stories of how gun violence affects Americans of all stripes "deserve to be told in this chamber," with several fellow legislators soon joining her on the floor.
Maye Quade said the idea came to her around 8:00 p.m. Monday. The next day, she surprised her colleagues at the end of the House floor session.
With the Legislature set to resume at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, however, Maye Quade will continue her sit-in throughout the session with no plans to cut the 24-hour protest short.
"I'll sit here during session," she said. "It'll be awkward."
Armed with a stack of papers and several portraits of Minnesotans who died as a result of gun violence, Maye Quade spent the majority of the day recounting their stories both from the floor and on social media.
Just last month, two gun bills that were tabled last year by the state Legislature were tabled again. The vote came on the heels of a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. that killed 17 and wounded many more, prompting nationwide school walkouts and massive campaigns to institute gun control legislation both in Minnesota and across the country.
The bills called for universal background checks and high risk protective orders, with similar Senate bills failing to receive a hearing just two weeks later.
"To have a policy that 90 percent of Minnesotans support not make its way to this floor for a vote...it's concerning," Maye Quade said.