Push for tougher gun laws in wake of deadly Colorado school shooting

There is a renewed effort to push tougher gun control laws in Minnesota after the deadly school shooting in Colorado.

Groups like Moms Demand Action Minnesota held a meeting Wednesday night to discuss two major provisions still working their way through the state Capitol.

"We are all heartbroken by what happened in Colorado,” said Susie Kaufman, a member of Moms Demand Action Minnesota. “I have small children myself. I was looking at their faces, these kids in kindergarten, first grade and my heart was breaking for their families, for all of us."

Putting their sadness into action, volunteers gathered to phone bank and strategize on how to push lawmakers to act on two big pieces of gun control legislation before time is up at the Capitol.

"Here in Minnesota, we have the opportunity to pass historic gun legislation in terms of background checks and red flag laws," said Kaufman.

So-called “red flag” laws would help law enforcement seek a court order against someone who is a threat and temporarily remove guns from the person in crisis. Under current Minnesota law, convicted felons, domestic abusers and others with dangerous histories can still get guns from unlicensed sellers who are not required to run background checks on people buying the firearms. 

Twenty states have enacted laws requiring background checks for all handgun sales. The two gun provisions are currently in an omnibus bill passed in the House last week.

“We don’t believe that those two items are going to work—how are we going to keep our schools safe?” said state Senator Andrew Lang, R-Olivia. 

Senator Lang believes the two provisions violate people's constitutional rights. He says he would rather include mandatory minimums when it comes to felons in possession of a gun or increase funding for school security improvements. Currently, there is $75 million in an education bill working its way through the Senate.

"Schools have the ability to hire resource officers, key card entry—they do some security video if they want to," said Sen. Lang.

It's unclear what the next step is for these gun control and school safety bills. The debate will continue in conference committees for the rest of the week.