Nashville school shooting sparks familiar gun control debate

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The school shooting in Nashville that resulted in the deaths of three elementary school students and three staff members is the latest flashpoint in the gun control debate around the nation and here in Minnesota.

“I again want to dispel this myth that what we’re living with and what our children are living with is just the way it is,” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said at State Capitol news conference about an unrelated topic. Everywhere the governor goes he says he’s asked about the issue of guns.

“If you’re tweeting defending an inanimate object today rather than talking about children you are on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of where things are at,” he said in response to questions about the issue.

Opponents of gun control measures being considered at the Capitol say supporters of such laws rarely acknowledge how little they would do to stop most mass shootings.

“They consistently fail to put a connecting line between the measures that they’re pushing for and the tragedies they’re using to push those measures,” said Rob Doar of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus in an interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

He says the Nashville shooting is a good example of what he’s talking about.

“The shooter bought their firearms legally,” Doar says. “Nobody used the mechanisms under Tennessee’s current law to intervene with the person’s mental health crisis.”

Tennessee doesn’t have a “red flag” law that allows authorities to confiscate guns from someone with mental health issues.

Gov. Walz points to a Minnesota “red flag” law proposal and another requiring background checks in person-to-person sales as examples of things Minnesota could do to help stop at least some shootings.

“These two are proven, measurable things, Red Flag laws that allow for extreme risk protection orders to stop people,” Walz said. “And then background checks, which again I would note, as a lawful gun owner myself, neither of those two things impinge on my Second Amendment rights in anyway.”

But Doar says as written both laws are too extreme. For instance, the “red flag” proposed law wouldn’t allow a person suspected of having a mental health issue to defend himself or herself before having guns taken away. As for the person-to-person gun sale background checks, he says such checks would even be required to lend a gun to a friend for hunting or to go to a gun range.

He notes the Nashville shooter had a mental health issue, but was able to buy several guns legally anyway after undergoing background checks.

“There’s nothing that’s being pushed for now in Minnesota that would have had any impact on that tragedy,” he says. “I think we really need to focus on the individuals in crisis.”