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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Gun Restrictions? MN's Congress Delegation Shows The Difficulty

Category: Guns
Posted: 12/18/12 01:22

by Dave Mindeman

Gun restrictions have always been difficult to enact into law and you don't have to look any furthur than Minnesota's own Congressional delegation to understand why.

Judging by past records here is how it looks:

6th District Bachmann and 2nd District Kline would fight gun restrictions. 7th District Democrat Colin Peterson would as well.

4th District McCollum and 5th District Ellison would support gun restrictions.

But then it gets murky..

3rd District Erik Paulsen would probably fight restrictions but maybe not quite as hard as Bachmann and Kline. Paulsen avoids the topic when he can and the likely reason is that his constituents are more persuaded about gun restrictions. Paulsen is also aware of the power of the NRA -- so in the end, he will stand with guns.

1st District Tim Walz has supported 2nd Amendment bills in the past and looks like he would be uneasy about any bill restricting guns. However, he may be persuadable in the NewTown aftermath. Right now, you would have to put him in the Colin Peterson camp.

And then there is Congressman-elect Rick Nolan. Nolan will be representing a district that considers the 2nd Amendment sacred...and Nolan's public positions indicate pro-gun postures. But, he too, may be persuaded if a reasonable debate can happen. But that remains to be seen.

As for our Senators? More question marks. Senator Franken would be more likely to look at restrictions -- he has avoided immediate statements...which he says is out of respect for the families.

Sen. Klobuchar is careful to put her gun rights positions in terms of hunting; although she did vote YES on a bill that allowed firearms in checked baggage on Amtrak trains. In my opinion, Senator Klobuchar will be a follower on the debate and, again, wait for a consensus. Don't see any leadership here.

So if you want a debate on guns and wish to see action on gun laws, Minnesota is a prime example of how difficult it is to move this forward.

If you had a vote on a gun restriction law right now - Minnesota's House delegation would probably vote 2 in favor 6 against. In the Senate, I wouldn't venture a guess right now.

There is a lot of work to do.
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Rep. Cornish Wants Guns In Schools - Let's Have That Debate

Category: Guns
Posted: 12/18/12 00:50

by Dave Mindeman

Rep. Tony Cornish is going to actually put forward a bill that would arm teachers and staff at schools.

First question Rep. Cornish, did you ask the teachers?

I don't doubt that a select few of them would welcome the opportunity but I'm guessing the vast majority would say "No Thank You".

I can also tell you that, as a parent, if my kid's school put together a policy of arming personnell, then my kid is going somewhere else. The idea of having guns in a school to prevent another "Newtown" is an emotional reaction, not a logical one.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that there is more danger from the accidental use of that gun, then its use in protecting anyone from a mass shooting.

And what Cornish is suggesting in his bill is even more surprising because Cornish is a former police officer. I have yet to hear a policeman issue a call for more guns anywhere.

But...OK...let's have this debate. Bring the bill and let's have some serious hearings. Let teachers testify....law enforcement...parents. And let's have gun advocates make their case. I really would be anxious to hear what the NRA's position on that will be officially.

And before you start the school debate, please look at the statistics of having a gun in the home....

1. Gun owners and their families are not more suicidal than non-gun-owners, research shows. No are they more likely to have a history of depression or other mental health problems. But they ? and their families ? are at significantly increased risk of successfully taking their lives with a gun. The reason: Guns are more lethal than other methods.

2. ...a large percentage of homicides ? and especially homicides in the home ? occur during altercations over matters such as love, money, and domestic problems, involving acquaintances, neighbors, lovers, and family members; often the assailant or victim has been drinking.

3. ..."scientific studies suggest that the health risk of a gun in the home is greater than the benefit,? he adds. ?There are no credible studies that indicate otherwise.?

4. ?One study of nonfatal accidental shootings found that the majority were self- inflicted, most involved handguns, and more than one third of the injuries required hospitalization. Injuries often occurred during fairly routine gun handling ? cleaning a gun, loading and unloading, target shooting, and so on.?

After you consider that, think about guns in a building with hundreds of children. Would you want that responsibility?

So, yes, it is probably time to bring on that type of gun debate. People need to know the facts and especially the risks.
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The Gun Debate Continues

Category: Guns
Posted: 12/17/12 16:35

by Dave Mindeman

Listening to the wall to wall news coverage of the horrible incident at Sandy Hook comes with a mixture of curiousity, revulsion, and a sense of being completely overwhelmed.

Mixed in with all of those feelings is a desire to do something about guns.

We have had other incidents of mass shootings. We have had a number of them this year alone. But this one still feels different. It is the idea that this type of crazy and utterly horrible violence can reach into the innocent realm of our youngest children.

We shield them from things like this - we don't expose them to it. We carefully explain why people do this - we never expect to have them face it directly.

And in the middle of all of that are the guns. The weapons. The death devices.

The NRA has been mostly out of the recent debate in the aftermath of this shooting. They know their ground is shaky. But if we, as a nation, do decide to act, the NRA will be there and they will not be timid.

Conservatives refuse to bring up sensible gun laws as a part of the solution. They, instead, look toward at the finges.....

John Hinderaker from Powerline:

.....one practical response to the school/theater/mall murderers presents itself: we could ban all news coverage of mass shooting incidents. If newspapers, magazines, web sites and above all television and radio stations were prohibited from making any reference to mass shooting crimes, then the goal that these criminals seek?fame; in effect, immortality?would not be achieved. It is reasonable to expect that mass shootings would decline as a result.

Another version of "it's the media's fault". Except that media has a virtual obligation to cover such a story. This type of horrific crime cannot be hidden under a rug. And we, the public, will demand information and answers on such events. Unfortunately, Yes, the shooter gets "what he wants".....but if, in this instance. we really begin to focus on prevention, is that not the more important aspect?

One thing the media should do, however, is to be more concerned with accuracy rather than speed. Too many stories were released that were not correct during this tragedy and that is not acceptable. It can hurt innocent people and give unnecessary pain to the victims and their families. A 24 hour news cycle has to temper its insatiable desire to run with unsubstantiated news.

Again, from Hinderaker:

Within the realm of constitutional options, the most practical remedy I can think of would be to require that a certain number of teachers or administrators in each school be trained in the use of firearms and armed at all times. That would probably deter most school shooters. It is curious, but true, that even those killers who do not intend to survive their crimes never seem to open fire in the presence of another armed person.

A lot of conservatives still believe that the answer to these horrific instances involving guns....is more guns. There seems to be some inner fantasy about the Wild West or that the Die Hard movies are real incidents, that fuels this thought process. It is far fetched...but it is persistent.

The facts still indicate that guns in the home are more likely to result in gun accidents and mistaken identity shootings rather than actual defense of the home. You can train a person how to shoot a gun, but it is much more difficult to train a person in the proper discernment about a situation appropriate for a gun.

We spend billions on our 911 systems to make the response time as quick it can be. And we spend other billions on training law enforcement to know when it is appropriate to fire that weapon.

I heard a Congressperson lament the fact that the principal of the school had no access to a weapon that could have given her confrontation with the shooter a better "outcome". If she had been armed, everyone would have been saved.

But speaking in a practical sense...a) the shooter had body armor; b) if she had a gun it is more than likely to have been locked up and not readily available (it was a school after all); and c) she would have had to exchange fire in a room full of people where a gunman had the full field of vision and automatic weapons at the ready.

There is this fantasy that gun supporters have which envisions a vigilante shootout as a viable option for these situations. Having guns available in every public place, at all times, is a recipe for more disasters not less. And placing guns in schools is just wrong on its face.

President Obama has indicated a willingness to act. I am proud of him for that....but I also want to actually see the action. The hard part of this debate has only begun. Action speaks louder; we all know that.

Phase one will be Senator Dianne Feinsteins re-introduction of the assault weapons ban. Phase two will be closing the gun show loop hole. Phase three will be better mental health coverages in the ACA or directly.

They don't have be in that order, but those three are the beginning. More things need to happen but this is what we can do now.

And "now" cannot be delayed any more.
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