Today Minnesota joined Washington State and Wisconsin in passing legislation this year to protect women and children by keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, defeating decade-long resistance from the National Rifle Association. In the weeks leading up to today’s passage, Everytown for Gun Safety mobilized Minnesotans including domestic violence survivors and advocates, the local Moms Demand Action chapter, law enforcement and concerned citizens to meet with legislators, testify at Senate and House committee hearings, make hundreds of calls and send thousands of emails to legislators in support of the bill. Research shows that the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed. The trifecta of new laws in these states – as well as a new law in New Hampshire to create a crime of domestic violence – will help protect women and families by keeping guns out of dangerous hands.
“Passing legislation to keep guns away from domestic abusers in Washington, Wisconsin, and now Minnesota is a victory for the safety of women and children, and an important sign that support for sensible gun laws is building,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder and chairman of Everytown for Gun Safety and co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “After years of resistance from the gun lobby, these victories show that – by localizing local supporters – progress on common-sense gun policies is achievable.”
The news in Minnesota today comes on the heels of the recent announcement of Everytown for Gun Safety and the launch of the Gun Sense Voter campaign to mobilize one million gun safety voters in November and beyond. Just last week, Everytown helped defeat two dangerous gun bills in Arizona that were vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer.
“The recent victories in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Washington State – and Governor Brewer’s recent veto of two dangerous bills – show how Americans across the country are coming together to fix our country’s broken gun laws and it’s just the beginning,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. “As we’ve said before – we’re not waiting for Washington any longer; Americans are coming together in their city halls and state houses to fight for common-sense reforms that respect the Second Amendment and protect people.”
SF 2639, which was introduced by Senator Ron Latz, passed the Minnesota Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support and now goes to Governor Mark Dayton’s desk to be signed into law. Current Minnesota law prohibits abusers convicted of domestic assault from possessing handguns but is silent regarding their ability to possess assault weapons and other rifles and shotguns. The bill will close this loophole, a critical step since nearly one in five domestic homicide victims are murdered with a shotgun or rifle. It will also protect victims of domestic violence and stalking by creating a process to ensure that prohibited abusers and stalkers relinquish their guns and store them with dealers, law enforcement, or other trusted third parties. In Minnesota, the number of domestic violence murders rose dramatically in 2013, more than doubling 2012 numbers. A fact sheet on the bill is available here – and new polling by Everytown for Gun Safety shows that nearly 80 percent of Minnesotans support the provisions in the legislation.
Statements from some of the bill’s proponents are below:
“Today’s passage in the Senate was a big step toward keeping Minnesota children and families safer,” said Senator Ron Latz, sponsor of SF 2639. “Law enforcement, mayors, gun owners and legislators on both sides of the aisle came together to pass this bill, because we can all agree that it will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and save lives.”
“My daughter Carolyn was murdered by her husband several days after she filed for divorce. He had previously stalked her—and that day, he shot her eleven times outside of the house where she was employed caring for disabled women,” said Marree Seitz of Duluth. “I’m encouraged by the legislature’s passage of this bill and know that with this law in place to keep guns away from dangerous people and domestic abusers, we can prevent Minnesota families from going through the pain of losing a loved one.”
“Passing this important legislation is a step toward keeping people in Eagan and all Minnesota communities safer,” said Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire. “I applaud the Minnesota legislature for working together to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and look forward to the governor signing it into law.”
“Minnesota moms are encouraged that both Republicans and Democrats came together to pass this common-sense legislation to keep women and families safer today,” said Ann Norby, member of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America, a part of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We commend the Minnesota legislature for doing what’s right for our communities—and while we know there’s more to do to keep people safe from gun violence, we’re thrilled to see that other states are also working to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.”
“Passage of this important bill is a victory for law enforcement because it helps us better do our jobs by giving us a system to prevent stalkers and domestic abusers from possessing firearms,” said Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell, speaking on behalf of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association. “Today is a step forward for the safety of Minnesotans – and we applaud the Minnesota legislature for standing with women, families and law enforcement.”