Proposed Ban On Guns In Minnesota Capitol Shot Down Again

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photo by nickcoleman

Gun Owners Protesting Against Proposed New Gun Laws in 2013.

Despite Rep. Michael Paymar’s repeated attempts to ban firearms from the Minnesota State Capitol, the Advisory Committee on Capitol Area Security last week only approved a watered-down safety recommendation that barely touched on gun security in the Capitol complex.

Instead of a ban on weapons at the Capitol, the committee voted 4-2 to request a modest increase in the number of State Troopers and non-sworn security officers on duty at the Capitol. The committee also voted 3-2 to approve a slight change in the firearm notification process. That recommendation will require legal gun carriers to provide their name, date of birth, expiration date of their gun permit and contact information in order to bring a firearm inside Capitol grounds.

Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lori Gildea abstained on that vote, her second abstention while serving on the security committee. She said she abstained in case any gun-related measures come before her and the high court, but some Capitol observers have wondered quietly whether she should serve on the committee if she is unable to vote on its proposals. Ironically, the nearby state courts building, where the Supreme Court sits, does not allow weapons inside the building.

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Calling the committee’s discussions “frustrating” due to the lack of support for a gun ban, Paymar said the proposed recommendations were, “not getting us to the place of ensuring that the Capitol and the Capitol complex are safe.”

Paymar, a St. Paul DFLer who is not seeking re-election next November, has been the chief proponent of tighter gun violence measures at the Capitol but has been unable to win the support of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and other DFL leaders. The nine-term lawmaker warned last fall that unless gun safety at the Capitol is increased, a tragedy may happen.

“How many people have to die, how many tragedies have to happen before politicians get some spine,” he asked then. “People have to get some courage on this issue. If something were to happen and you didn’t act to prevent it, I don’t know how you look at yourself in the mirror the next day.”

At last week’s meeting, Paymar criticized the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for a lack of leadership on the issue. Minnesota is one of only a dozen states that allow gun owners to bring their weapons into the Capitol.

“I’m fine having a discussion about it,” Paymar said. “But you’d think you’d get a little bit of leadership from the Department (of Public Safety) saying, ‘This is what we recommend based on all the information before us,’ and then let us make the political decision to make recommendations to the Legislature.”

Paymar said the Capitol security committee was ignoring the testimony of safety experts and moving forward without all the facts.

“I’m concerned that we did not address firearms… We tinkered around with permit holders coming into the Capitol building … but quite frankly, I have said before that we should be banning firearms in this building.”

Paymar tried several times before to introduce legislation prohibiting personal firearms in the Capitol complex but his attempts for stricter safety regulations were drowned-out by the gun-rights community. In addition, the approval for a minor modification in the Capitol’s firearm notification process only slightly improved a loosely regulated gun monitoring system.

The members of the Advisory Committee include Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, Gildea, Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, Sen. Ann Rest, Rep. Kelby Woodard and Paymar. Paymar and Rest, saying the measure did not go far enough, were on the short side of the 4-2 vote. Ingebrigsten, a Republican and former county sheriff, mocked their vote, saying it went against their stated support for stricter gun regulations.

“If you vote against it, you’re voting against making the Capitol safer,” Ingebrigtsen said to Rest, who called the current safety suggestions “inadequate” and “falling short.”

Responding, Rest said, “I do not accept Sen. Ingebrigtsen’s characterization of my vote.”

Throughout the meeting, Paymar insisted a security breach could happen at any time and that additional monitoring at the entrances and exits, as well as a general firearm ban, must be implemented

“As people keep saying, ‘We haven’t had a problem yet’ and that’s the component here that scares me. I don’t want to wait until we have an incident to say we should have acted when we have an opportunity to act,” Paymar said shortly before the vote.

Video of the full meeting of the Advisory Committee on Capitol Area Security may be seen below:

Katie Nelson

Former aid worker turned pragmatic journalist and photographer specializing in global health and international development issues, particularly on the African continent.

18 thoughts on “Proposed Ban On Guns In Minnesota Capitol Shot Down Again

  1. Rep. Paymar’s efforts to demonize trained, background-checked permit holders were not “drowned-out by the gun-rights community.”

    They were rejected by the professionals at the Department of Public Safety and his peers in the DFL-led Minnesota House, who all recognized that the 160,000+ permit holders were the people least likely to commit violence at the Minnesota State Capitol.

    Furthermore, Minnesota does not have a “loosely regulated gun monitoring system” at the capitol. In fact, the Department of Public Safety already has a complete record of all 160,000 permitted individuals: the legislature made the DPS the custodian of that data in 2003, and the DPS receives $10 from every permit application fee to maintain that database.

    Minnesota could, of course, install magnetometers and armed guards at every entrance, like the Texas Legislature does. And, like Texas, they could wave the background-checked legislators, police officers and permit holders right around the metal detectors.

    Andrew Rothman is president of the Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance

  2. You state that the 160,000 permitted gun owners are the least likely to commit gun crimes and that the Department of Public Safety has a record of these permit holders. This does not constitute a safety plan for the Minnesota capitol building, as I’m sure you’re aware of the tens of thousands of illegal guns that are present in our state.” Hennepin
    County Sheriff Rich Stanek stated “There’s a lot of god dang [illegal] guns out there. A lot of ’em, and they’re fairly easy to acquire.” It is these guns, often in the hands of irresponsible and mentally unbalanced individuals, against which state employees would like to be protected. And citing Texas’ failure to use their metal detector equipment and properly execute their search protocols has absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand.

  3. There’s hardly such thing as an “illegal gun” in Minnesota, Dan. Sure, there are machine guns, and guns made of pot metal, but other than that, there are only illegal CARRIERS of guns.

    Implementing a system like Texas’ would address your concerns, keeping out those people not legally permitted to carry a firearm, while not infringing on the rights of the law abiding. Sounds like win-win to me — and it works well in Texas, where you’d get scanned, and I’d get waved through.

  4. Playing with semantics doesn’t win you arguments about the serious problem of gun violence in this country, Andrew. I have no problem with licensed (aka legal) guns in Minnesota. I even believe that those Minnesotans with conceal/carry permits have acquitted themselves quite well over the past decade. But legislatures, like schools, have a statistically significant tendency in this country to attract “illegal carriers” of guns with murderous intent. Since the political will to remove errant handguns from our streets does not (and likely will never) exist in the United States, providing a modicum of security for our public servants is a justified measure.

  5. I’m not playing with semantics so much as encouraging critical thought. Hint: the problem doesn’t lie with the hardware.

    I would suggest that schools and other government buildings attract illegal violence BECAUSE they are defense-free zones. Gun shows, NRA conventions and police stations are not the sites of mass shootings — those take place, overwhelmingly, in “gun free” zones like schools, post offices and other government buildings where well-meaning rules only keep out the good guys.

    If the capitol were to go “gun free,” it would require massive changes in access, architecture, procedure, and staffing. Given the echoing dearth of violent incidents in non-prohibited places, the DPS and the leaders in St. Paul have repeatedly concluded that such an effort would be a waste.

  6. Oh, and, again, “errant handguns”? No. They hardly ever go out and cause trouble on their own. Sloppy writing from sloppy thinking.

    Rep. Debra Hilstrom authored a bill last year (with more HALF of the House signing on as co-authors) that would have increased penalties for criminal use of firearms, and provided prosecutors with more tools to lock up the “errant guns'” handlers.

    Rep. Paymar REFUSED to let that bill be heard in the Public Safety committee.

    The problem is that Rep. Paymar isn’t looking to make us safer, but to grind a particular axe he has with gun owners. That’s unfortunate, bizarre, and certainly not good public policy.

  7. Your implication is that more conceal/carry permits equals more public security. Yet the science proves you wrong.

    Gun ownership, despite training, is linked to higher risks of homicide ( and accidental death ( For every incident in which a gun is used to defend a home, there are 7 assaults or murders and 4 accidents in and around homes (

    Ten times more people in 2011 were shot and killed during arguments ( than a gun owner trying to stop a crime in progress (

    Controlled scientific studies show that where
    there are more guns, there is an overall higher risk for men and women for homicide, especially for homicide by firearm.

    In high-income nations like the US, more guns equals more homicide: “Firearm availability and homicide rates across 26 high income countries.” Journal of Trauma. 2000; 49:985-88; “State-level homicide victimization rates in the U.S. in relation to survey measures of household firearm ownership, 2001-2003.” Social Science and Medicine. 2007; 64:656-64; “Household firearm ownership levels and homicide rates across U.S. regions and states, 1988-1997.” American Journal of Public Health. 2002: 92:1988-1993.

    If you have peer-reviewed science to back you up on your opinions about guns and the effect they have on our society, Andrew, I’d certainly be willing to consider it. Please post links and I’ll be happy to read them.

    The “massive” changes to the capitol and the security systems in our schools would not be so necessary were there not upwards of 270 million guns in this country. The costs associated with their misuse far now outweigh the costs required to protect human iife, and far outweigh any possible benefit to national security.

  8. “Sloppy writing from sloppy thinking?” You don’t know me, Andrew, so let’s both do our best to dicuss this topic like adults and avoid ad hominem attacks. Nothing good comes from belittling people.

  9. You seem to be rejecting the fact that violent crime is at a 20 year low while gun ownership is at an all-time high, Dan. I’m not sure how you can characterize their misuse now as suddenly outweighing costs to protect human life when things are at such a low. It is indicative of falling victim to the propaganda rather than the facts. The CDC report commissioned by Barack Obama himself stated that though we do not know the exact number of defensive uses of a firearm each year, it exceeds the illicit use of them. Additionally, you make a common mistake in your quotation of firearms homicides. I don’t think it is a stretch to come to the conclusion that states with higher firearms ownership rates have higher rates of firearms homicide. What that doesn’t address is the rate of overall homicide. When you look at that you suddenly realize there is very little correlation for either side. Minnesota happens to be one of the safest states to live in as far as overall homicide rates are concerned and I wouldn’t call our gun laws restrictive (and the Brady folks would agree).

  10. Can you please tell us where there were “Controlled scientific studies” involving guns? Did the scientists really arm one group, and leave a control group unarmed?

    Words mean things, you know.

    When you compare apples to oranges, you can “prove” anything you like. 95% of defensive gun uses involve no shots fired, so it’s not surprising that there isn’t a huge trail of dead bodies left behind.

    But more importantly, 99.9% of the 270 million guns are NOT used for violence. When you institute gun control, which group of guns is reduced? Hint #2: not the “good guy” ones.

  11. Too bad Ms. Nelson decided not to publish any of my interview with her.

    The notification system is obsolete.

    It was created in 1994, when police chiefs in hundreds of cities maintained their own “may issue” permit records. This way state patrol could easily verify that someone who was carrying had a permit.

    In 2003, the Sheriffs got control of the “shall Issue” permits, and the database was given to the MN Dept. of Public Safety (along with $10 from every permit app).

    Any law enforcement officer can access this database for lawful purposes, to verify the permit status of any person carrying.

    The big question that Rep. Woodard excellently pointed out… What does sending in notifications actually achieve? Receiving a notification has absolutely no effect on how DPS operates at the capitol,
    It’s nothing more than useless bureaucratic paperwork, that yields NO actionable information. Simple harassment by paperwork towards law abiding citizens.

  12. There already is a gun ban at the Capitol. Why is this even an issue?? If this is an issue it only proves Paymar has an ax to grind as Andrew said. It is already illegal to being a gun to the Capitol if you don’t have a permit to carry and give notification.

  13. The false premise here is that banning guns at the Capitol complex equates to increased safety. Criminals bent on doing harm do not recognize so called “gun free” zones and do not go through a notification process telling the Commissioner they plan on carrying a firearm when they come to do their shooting spree.

    Law abiding citizens that are licensed to carry a firearm are not the problem. Criminals that don’t follow the law are. Banning guns at the Capitol Complex is nothing more than opiate for the masses.

  14. Dan Pratt, at one time I would have agreed with you. I grew
    up on a farm and we had a rifle and did very little hunting. I’m a Democrat
    which today they seem to also call Liberal. The one thing I was taught
    growing up was don’t trust everything you read or everything you hear. I have
    always liked skill based sports, such as golf, pool, archery and target
    shooting. I got back into target shooting with the local gun range reopened as
    an indoor range. That got me to a place I was hearing many people making wild
    statements about guns. They came from both the Democrats and the GOP. Being a Democrat I wanted to believe that side, but when people that liked me one day hated me the second they found out I liked guns, I was told I was the problem. Well that was a like being told you have a ugly baby… it rankles your opinion of them… even if your baby is ugly… it is your baby and all that happens is everyone digs in their heels, builds a snow fort and starts lobbing snowballs back and forth.

    To figure out why I was now an evil person, I read everything I could put my hands on about firearms facts. All I got was a pile of information that both sides of this topic, were dang sure proved conclusively their point of view was right. At
    that point anyone reading the information has to step back and scratch their
    head and ask themselves how can this be? Well, anyone that hasn’t just fallen
    off the turnip truck knows that you can’t trust every expert, study, talking
    head or even what your teenager says about taking out the trash.

    I started to ask groups, where they got their facts and published statistics. I called up the MN Brady group and was given contact to a woman by the name of Joan Peterson. We talked on the phone and emailed. She was very happy to tell me the numbers. When I asked where they got the numbers. She wouldn’t out right say where they got them and just said they are the commonly known facts. When I pushed for the source, she got upset and said the numbers only need to make her point that is enough. When I asked isn’t it important to
    know they are correct. She told me that it didn’t’ matter where they are from and
    their sources were meaningless, even if they are not up-to-date or 100%
    accurate that is okay they/“she” just need to get “her point across”. I found it odd that she used the words “her point” and not the words such as “fact”, or “truth” across.

    She shook my faith in her group which is one of the leading anti gun groups. I looked around and found that most other anti gun groups are using the same numbers and reports. Therefore, I had to conclude that they also didn’t care about numbers being up-to-date or 100% accurate also.

    I was not an NRA member, but I called them and asked them where they got the numbers. They had no hesitation giving sources and access to links to the empirical date so that I could look the source and make my own conclusions. What I did was apply scientific and mathematical logic to this topic and I dug down to the empirical data from the base information from the CDC, FBI etc. and dangnabbit, the NRA’s numbers are not opinions based on feelings or made up numbers. What the NRA states is in fact real, correct, up-to-date and factual statistics.

    Dan, you will remember that President Obama, after Sandy Hook, called for the CDC to look at all the facts and produce a truthful report about how guns affect violent crime in the USA. Dan do you remember when President Obama called a press conference to discuss the findings of the report by the CDC? Neither do I, because he never has.

    The report had five main findings.

    It found that in the time period that America has seen a large increase in the number of ownership of handguns and long rifles in America (in the millions), guns did NOT caused more crime and violence, in fact there has been a reduction crime and violence during this time period. Today we are at twenty year low in violent crime.

    The increase in people legally carrying firearms concealed has in fact NOT caused more crime and violence; in fact there has been a reduction crime and violence during the time period that concealed carry permits have increased.

    The increase in gun control laws have NOT lowered crime and violence, in fact in areas with the strictest gun control laws crime is at an all time high. Those areas are, Washington D.C., Chicago IL, New Orleans LA and the State of CA. If you take those four areas out of the USA gun deaths, you find America moves from the 4th highest gun deaths country to 4th lowest gun deaths country.

    Rampage killers attacks happen 99.99% in gun free zones (such as Sandy Hook). (NOTE: Just today another gun free Zone school shooting.)

    Reducing Gun restrictions, such as removing the ban on the modern sporting rifle (such as the consumer AR-15 and AK-47 type rifles) that fires one bullet for each pull of the trigger, just like a revolver (they are not machine guns) has NOT caused more crime and violence; in fact there has been a reduction crime and violence during the time period that ban has been lifted.

    One of the conclusions the CDC made was that any ownership of an object does Not affect a raise in crime and violence. The statement “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is a true statement and is backed up the empirical data.

    Dan, you need to focus on criminals, crime and violence not objects. We don’t say automobile violence or baseball bat violence? Ask yourself why?


  15. When’s the last time a violent action involving a firearm took place at the State Capitol?