Minnesota students hold sit-in to urge hearing on gun control bills

High school students rallied in front of Minnesota Sen. Warren Limmer’s office Monday morning in what was a busy day at the Capitol. The group urged him to hold a hearing on the gun control bills that were put forward by a group of lawmakers last week. 

Limmer is the chair of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety and Finance Committee, which would be hearing the bills on Monday, but they are not on the agenda. The students gathered outside Limmer’s office with signs and got to have a brief conversation with the senator, where he told them their focus is going to be on school safety and improving building safety, as well as maybe having some armed personnel in the schools.

"Right now, my head count in the Minnesota Senate is these bills have bipartisan opposition and they would fail," Limmer said. 

After the meeting, the students said they were a little disappointed by what they heard from him. 

“Warren Limmer continued to say the same arguments that we’ve had before from pro-gun lawmakers and unfortunately he was not going to hear either of these [bills] in his hearings, which is just denying the ability of democracy to continue because we’re not even allowing these bills to be heard today,” said Josh Groven, an Eagan High School senior. 

The students plan to attend the committee hearing Monday afternoon to continue pressuring lawmakers to hear the gun control bills. One bill focuses on universal background checks, the second requires lost or stolen guns to be reported to police. 

They are also supporting a different bill that would have a protective order so police or family could petition the court to remove guns from a loved one if they felt there was a threat or danger there.The latter bill did get a committee hearing, but was shelved. The other two are not on any schedules as a of yet.  

"We stated to them, and I'll state it again that our caucus and caucus leadership is considering their request," Limmer said.

There is a committee deadline later this week where any bill that has not had a committee hearing will be put aside this session to focus on those that have.

"The next step is to continue exactly what we’re doing. We’re going to keep demanding from Limmer to get a hearing for these three bills we’ve been advocating for, and we’re not going to let go until it happens," student Karly Beaumont said.

Other legislative business 

Members of the legislature also heard from Senator Paul Anderson, Representative Kelly Fenton and advocates on a new bill that would close a boating insurance loophole for all people aboard a boat - especially family. 

Additionally, the Minnesota House suspended the rules to take up and pass legislation to provide $10 million in funding to continue fixes and bolster accountability for the troubled Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS). The bill passed the House on an overwhelming 98-27 bipartisan vote. A separate version passed the Senate earlier in the day. The Senate can either vote to concur and send the amended bill to the governor, or vote to send it to conference committee. 

Legislators also heard a bill that would block Legacy Amendment Arts & Cultural Heritage funding for projects promoting terrorism or criminal activity. The bill comes in response to multiple media reports last year about Arts and Cultural Heritage Legacy funds being used to develop a video game where players could blow up oil pipelines.