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Rally for gun reform to take place at Minnesota Capitol

Updated: August 07, 2019 07:03 PM

As local leaders in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, prepare to talk gun reform with President Donald Trump, similar discussions will continue in Minnesota.

Groups against gun violence have planned a rally Wednesday evening at the Capitol.

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Democratic leaders and gun safety advocates in Minnesota have for years pursued universal background checks and "red flag" laws, which let police take guns from people thought to be a threat to themselves and others. But they have failed at the Legislature.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said Monday that universal background checks haven't been proven to stop mass shootings. He instead advocated focusing on mental health and tougher sentencing for felons who use guns.

However, Gov. Tim Walz is expected to call for faster change, which includes talking about the two laws that failed this past legislative session.

"I just can't allow this to be the normal," Walz said Sunday. "We have to recognize this doesn't happen like this in other countries."

RELATED: State, local officials respond to mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso

Wednesday night's "Honor Them with Action" rally is hosted by Protect Minnesota and Minnesota Moms Demand Action.

"I think the whole nation is traumatized by the fact that we've had just continual mass shootings," Nancy Nord Bence, from Protect Minnesota. "It's terribly important that we stand up and say to our legislators, 'Do Something!!'"

But not everyone is on the same page.

Members of groups like the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus say they are against rallies like the one scheduled for Wednesday night.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the group said, "To be clear as this fight shapes up in the coming days - there are no circumstances under which our organization will support any form of gun control in Minnesota or federally."

Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson also said he doesn't support universal background checks, and thinks there needs to be more due process before red flag laws are enacted.

"What they're trying to do is not going to fix the problem," said Peterson. "Background checks have not been the issue. They've legally bought the gun, so there is no loophole they've gotten around. So they're trying to fix something that isn't a problem."

The "Honor Them with Action" rally Wednesday begins at 7 p.m. and those gathered plan to honor all victims from the shootings this past weekend.

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