March 13, 2019 06:17 PM
Gun control advocates filled the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday trying to pressure the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate to hold hearings on bills regarding background checks and "extreme risk" protection orders. The bills have already passed two House committees.
"Our government must do more to protect our children," said Erin Zamoff of Moms Demand Action Minnesota at a rally with hundreds of supporters of the gun legislation. "We have had enough. It's time to act."
First Lady Gwen Walz also made her first major appearance at a political rally, warning Republicans that failure to act could be costly in the 2020 elections.
"There are seven senators sitting in seats where Tim Walz won and they are Republicans and we are coming," Walz said to a loud ovation.
Walz and others at the rally say a lack of action on gun control was a major factor in Republicans losing control of the Minnesota House.
DFL Senator Ron Latz says he's been trying to get hearings on gun control bills for 18 months.
"I don't know, in a year and a half you'd think we could find an hour or two to hear some gun violence reduction bills," he said.
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Latz did try to get the chairman of the Senate Public Safety and Judiciary Committee to commit to a hearing earlier this week after that committee voted down a bill to legalize recreational marijuana.
"If the goal is to not shut down conversation in the Senate then I think we should have a full vetting of those two gun violence reduction proposals that I'm the chief author of," Latz said to Sen. Warren Limmer, (R-Maple Grove), chairman of the committee.
"You may know that we have close to 300 bills that want to cram into our deadline weeks and we're trying to do as much justice for everyone that we possibly can," Limmer said in response to Latz on Monday.
In a written statement released Thursday afternoon, Limmer said political considerations are also at play.
"Citizens safety will always be a top concern, the more we study these issues the more the issue of mental health rises," the statement says. "Last year, those conversations led to a significant investment in school safety that I'm very proud of, and I think there will be interest in doing more for schools this year. With divided government, and currently, bi-partisan opposition to the current bills, any new solutions will need to have wide bipartisan support to be seriously considered."
While there is a lot of demand for bills to be heard in committee, one bill that was heard on Wednesday calls for $500,000 per year over the next two years to implement "firearm safety, archery, hunting and angling in school physical education courses." That bill passed out of the Senate Environment and Natural Resource Finance Committee Thursday morning.
Updated: March 13, 2019 06:17 PM
Created: March 13, 2019 03:59 PM
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