Eva Goldfarb says she and her St. Louis Park High School classmates have all had the same disturbing dream. In it, a shooter targets their school, much like one did in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 students.
“I wanted to say ‘gosh what a horrible nightmare,’” she told a packed hearing room at the Minnesota legislature, “but I realized it can’t even be classified as a nightmare. Because even though it has monsters and terror, nightmares aren’t real. This is all too real, and we know it too well, and we’ve known it for too long.”
“You are legislators and it is your job to keep us safe from gun violence in our school.”
Goldfarb was testifying in favor of one of two gun violence prevention bills that have languished in the Republican-controlled Public Safety Committee for more than a year. Chair Rep. Brian Johnson (R) granted a hearing on the bills after bill author Rep. Dave Pinto publicly asked him to do so last week on the House floor. One bill would expand background checks. The other would allow family or police to ask a court to take away guns from someone who exhibits “red flags” indicating they may use the guns for violence.
Gun Rights Groups Claim Gun Owners Don’t Want Background Checks
Video above: St. Louis Park High School student Eva Goldfarb testifies
Video at bottom: Entire House Public Safety Committee hearing.
Testimony from Goldfarb and law enforcement officers in favor of the bills was countered by testimony from gun rights groups. Robert Doar of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus said the background checks were “unconstitutional” and a survey of his members show that 95% of gun owners oppose them. That runs counter to most surveys that show 90% of Americans support expanded background checks and among National Rifle Association members (NRA) 72% support expanded background checks.
“No background check can stop an evil mind,” said Joseph Olsen with the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance.
Pinto said that no single policy change would prevent all gun violence deaths, but reasonable steps need to be taken.
The committee voted to table the bills, dimming the chances that they will reach the full House for a vote this session. Only one Republican, Rep. Keith Franke, voted with the Democrats to prevent the background check bill from being tabled.
Despite the vote, Pinto saw positive signs in today’s hearing. “I heard general agreement that we should be taking steps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.” He thinks he heard a willingness to pass the bills this session.
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