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Often, to construct our newsletters each week, we’re Googling like crazy to compile the background of a given topic or guest.
Not so this week, not for our topic on guns and gun violence in Minnesota.
Needless to say, after the still heart-rending assault on Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT, a few weeks ago (is it already weeks?), the writings – coverages, assertions, opinions, and, yes, faux pas by a wide variety of reporters, commentators, advocates and policymakers – we’re inundated with material.
Much of the reaction to yet another “massacre” of human life by the use of firearms emerges as shockingly insensitive to a sane, nominally democratic, society, all of it trying to make sense out of senseless acts, cynical Congressional inaction and the wide berth given by the US Supreme Court to a badly written Second Amendment, theoretically upheld in its literal ambiguity as to just which circumstances call for the right of citizens to bear arms.
This much we do know: something must bring to as close a halt as possible in this mass arsenal of weaponry we call the United States the increasing number and increasingly shocking carnage inflicted by multi-gun-toting, sadly disturbed and untreated societal outliers.
Let us not forget, however, that this sort of bloodletting is a common, everyday occurrence in scores of other countries and cultures ever in upheaval over deadly dictatorships or massive military crackdowns. Deaths of one’s own brothers and sisters of every age and gender occur by the thousands, even millions, in places where ancient sectarian and tribal hatreds rear their miserable heads. To those peoples, our outrage over incidents here may seem laughable.
But, to us, the very idea of one of us killing 20 children and seven adults in one armed rampage bespeaks a sickness of society as well as the young men (always men, or boys, and always white) who carry them out. These killings are not born of ancient sectarian rivalries. These are all our neighbors, our children, our peace of mind. They leave us stunned and numb and wailing for remedies.
Pro-gun advocates try to obscure the truth, but the very existence of guns in a household multiplies the chances someone in that household – not an intruder, but a family member – will be shot, and that the more guns are allowed to be carried in a state, the more gun deaths occur. The statistics defy refuting, including the dangers of allowing one-on-one gun sales with no background checks, even at official gun shows. And so on.
This week, we look at Minnesota’s remedies – or some possible solutions – to a culture so obsessed with its “right” to own, carry and fire guns that any notion that we should look at the Sandy Hooks of this country, this world, as one thing and one thing only: the lethal tirade of man gone mad and lay off the idea that the arsenal we have created by that obsession has anything to do with its deployment.
We have a governor – a DFL governor, and owner of several guns himself – who is afraid our hands are tied in light of the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment ruling a couple of years ago, that states cannot abridge such a ruling, even as the space cadets running the National Rifle Association (NRA) and our own Rep Tony Cornish insist that we should arm teachers and principals and/or turn our schools into armed sanctuaries with cops at every door. Never, ever, ever blame the proliferation of weapons or the overweening influence of a gun-manufacturing lackey like the NRA, which, under threat of political demise, has cowed most politicians into the most insane series of statutes ever written on behalf of one industry (except, perhaps oil, hardly the deadly substance).
But, for the next two years at least, we now have an all-DFL-controlled state government, and it remains now for those caucuses and this governor to show the compassion and courage needed to finally put some limits on the types of weapons and bullets and magazines Minnesotans may harbor as well as the conditions under which guns can be purchased and a registry of arms created – some of this now prohibited by federal law.
Is it possible the Supreme Court would give way to a few states’ rights now without the basic Second Amendment ruling being violated? Where can we come down on making our homes and schools and public places safer in the face of severe resistance by the NRA and panicky gunowners who know not that the NRA does not represent them as much as it represents gun-makers?
TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL talks with advocates for gun culture reform and changes in law to bring real protection to our children.
STATE REP. MICHAEL PAYMAR (DFL-St. Paul), Incoming Chair, MN House Public Safety Committee
HEATHER MARTENS – President, Protect Minnesota (formerly Citizens for a Safer Minnesota)
TONY BOUZA – former Chief of the Minneapolis Police and former candidate for governor (on a gun-control platform)
STATE REP. TONY CORNISH, Lead Republican, MN House Public Safety Committee; Retired Chief of Police, Lake Crystal, MN