82 Percent of Minnesotans Support Background Checks on All Gun Sales; Legislation Supported by Law Enforcement, Faith Leaders, County Attorneys, and Many More Community Leaders
ST. PAUL, Minn. – More than 300 volunteers with the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and the Everytown Survivor Network, both a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, joined gun owners, law enforcement officers, faith leaders, and other local and state leaders in St. Paul today for a rally, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and meetings with lawmakers urging support for Senate File 2493. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Ron Latz, requires background checks on all gun sales, including online sales and sales at gun shows, closing existing loopholes in Minnesota law that make it easy for felons, domestic abusers and people suffering from dangerous mental illness to get guns. Representative Doug Schoen sponsors the House version of the bill, HF 2897. Recent polling indicates that 82 percent of Minnesotans support requiring background checks on all gun sales.
“Everyone here today comes from different backgrounds, politics, and points of view—but on the issue of preventing gun violence, we have one clear voice: there are common sense solutions like criminal background checks for all gun sales that will help save lives and we will not stop until our leaders act,” said Marit Brock, volunteer chapter leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “In the 18 states that require background checks on all handgun sales, there are fewer gun deaths—that’s why more than 80 percent of Minnesotans support this policy and that’s why we are here today to demand our state legislators agree to close this dangerous loophole here in Minnesota.”
The midday rally included remarks from law enforcement, gun owners, and gun violence survivors, including Athena Adkins, a volunteer with the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action and a recent gun violence survivor. Athena and her husband, Dan Adkins, worked with Chase Passauer, 23, who was shot and killed while at work in St. Paul earlier this month.
“After the tragedy I experienced, people tell me they are thinking about or praying for my husband and Chase’s family. I so appreciate that – and as we come together to grieve, we must also come together to take action,” said Athena Adkins, volunteer with the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action and recent gun violence survivor. “Right now, legislators in Saint Paul have an opportunity to close critical loopholes that allow dangerous people to get guns. We must demand our legislators support background checks on all gun sales and if they don’t, we will find legislators that will.”
SF 2493’s bill sponsor, Senator Latz, also took the stage to address the crowd of supporters and to talk about the importance of closing the background check loophole in Minnesota.
“There is not one solution that will end gun violence, but just sitting back and watching it happen is unacceptable,” said Senator Latz, Senate sponsor of the background checks legislation. “It’s time for my colleagues and me to do our jobs and move meaningful policy forward—especially one that has the support of more than 80 percent of Minnesotans. It’s up to us to save lives from gun violence and that starts with closing the background check loophole here in Minnesota.”
A select group of rally attendees, including gun owners, gun violence survivors, law enforcement leaders, and medical professionals, also testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today in support of criminal background checks on all gun sales. During the public comment section of the hearing, supporters of the legislation shared their reasons for wanting legislators to require background checks on all gun sales. In addition to the rally and hearing, volunteers visited more than 100 offices to meet with their representatives to urge them to support SF 2493.
“I am proud to say that the Minnesota Association of Women Police was the first law enforcement organization in our state to sign on to support this legislation, because we know what happens when guns get into the hands of dangerous people—especially abusive spouses or partners,” said Sargent Sarah Nasset, President of the Minnesota Association of Women Police. “As law enforcement officers, we see it all too often and nationally, an average of 51 women are shot and killed every month by a current or former husband or boyfriend. For the women and families of Minnesota, and for the law enforcement officers who have taken an oath to keep our communities safe, it’s time we close this fatal loophole in our laws.”
“I fully support the Latz-Schoen legislation because it balances respect for the Second Amendment with working to keep guns out of dangerous hands,” said Bob Mokos, gun owner, former Air Force Officer, retired International airline pilot, and Federal Flight Deck Officer and volunteer member of the Everytown Survivor Network. “This bill allows me and fellow law abiding gun owners to continue buying and selling firearms, hunting, and protecting our families, and at the same time provides a mechanism to ensure that guns don’t fall into the hands of felons and domestic abusers.”
As part of the effort to mobilize support for criminal background checks on all gun sales, the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action has been organizing events in all corners of the state. Since January, the chapter has hosted dozens of events, sent more than 200 volunteers and survivors to Democratic and Republican caucuses in more than 150 precincts all over the state to talk to voters about gun violence prevention and the importance of knowing where candidates stand on the issue and organized today’s events. In the 18 states that have closed the background check loophole by requiring background checks on all handgun sales, there are 46 percent fewer women killed by intimate partners, 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers killed with handguns, and 48 percent less gun trafficking.