Guns don’t make Minnesota safer, and too often lead to heart-breaking stories — that was the Valentine’s Day message from religious and gun safety groups to lawmakers. Handcrafted valentines with sad stories of the hundreds of people who died last year in Minnesota from non-suicidal gun violence were delivered to House and Senate members as they prepare to vote on four pro-gun bills this session.
“We wanted to make sure that our Representatives understood the human toll of gun violence in our community and in our state,” said Rev. Nancy Nord Bence, Executive Director of Protect Minnesota.
She then rattled off some horrifying statistics. There were 500 non-suicidal gun deaths last year. 80% of gun deaths in Minnesota are suicides, which happen disproportionately in suburban and rural areas. The broken heart postcards the group distributed state that 56% of domestic murders in Minnesota last year were committed with a gun. Gun violence costs Minnesota $2.2 billion a year.
Nord Bence and the many orange-shirted people with her were concerned that lawmakers may vote to make a bad situation worse. Four pro-gun bills have been introduced this session. Two would remove the need to get a permit for those who want to carry a gun. One wold allow gun owners to get a permit for life. And another is modeled after the much-criticized “stand your ground” law in Florida that says people have a right to defend themselves with deadly force without a duty to retreat if they feel threatened. That law was responsible for the acquittal of George Zimmerman after he shot an unarmed man named Trayvon Martin.
Minnesota pro-gun bills
Nash/Utke Permitless Cary Bill (HF0188/SF0649)
Bahr/Utke Permitless Carry Bill (HF0309/SF0605)
Nash/Ruud Stand Your Ground Bill (HF0238/SF0292)
Cornish Lifetime Carry Permit for Handguns (HF0469)
Speakers at the news conference included:
The Rev. Nancy Nord Bence, Executive Director, Protect Minnesota, Sensible Gun Laws Now
Rep. Ray Dehn – DFL, Minneapolis
Rachel Babbitt, Missioner for Community Engagement, Episcopal Church of Minnesota
Beth Gendler, Executive Director, National Council of Jewish Women, MN
Nausheena Hussain, Executive Director, Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood of Empowerment, RISE
Chandra Smith Baker, President & CEO, Pillsbury United Communities