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This Session, Minnesota Lawmakers Should Pass Background Checks and Red Flag Legislation to Keep Minnesotans Safe.

As lawmakers return to St. Paul for the beginning of Minnesota’s legislative session Tuesday, they will have new opportunities to pass common-sense gun safety bills. Top priorities for lawmakers should be: passing background checks and red flag legislation. On average, Minnesota has 422 gun deaths every year and gun deaths have increased 18 percent in the last decade. New voter research shows that voters in Minnesota support stronger gun safety laws by a 5:1 margin.

On Wednesday, Everytown put state lawmakers on notice by announcing a $250K digital campaign to pressure lawmakers to support more gun safety solutions, including background checks and red flag legislation. 

In 2018, Minnesotans flipped the Minnesota House of Representatives to a gun sense majority and elected Governor Tim Walz (D), who campaigned strongly on the issue of gun safety. The Minnesota House then passed background check legislation and a strong red flag bill during the 2019 legislative session, but the Republican-controlled state Senate refused to hold a vote or even a public hearing on the bills. Everytown, Moms Demand Action, and Students Demand Action volunteers are now calling on the Senate to act by passing background checks and red flag legislation during this legislative session. 

Here’s what to know about background check and red flag legislation:

Background Checks

  • Background checks are the best way to enforce gun possession laws. Background checks stop sales to prohibited people every day. Since 1994, over 3.5 million sales have been blocked to violent criminals and other prohibited people. In 2017 alone, over 170,000 sales were denied—39 percent of them to convicted felons.
  • Most Minnesotans support background checks on all gun sales. In October, Minneapolis Star Tribune polling showed for the second straight year that more than four in five Minnesotans support requiring background checks on all gun sales.

Red Flag Laws

  • Red flag laws are a powerful tool to prevent gun violence, including school shootings, mass shootings, and suicide. Already, red flag laws have been implemented in 17 other states, including nearby Colorado, and the District of Columbia. Enacting a red flag law would allow family members and law enforcement officers to intervene before tragedy strikes by seeking a court order to temporarily remove guns from people exhibiting warnings signs that they pose a danger to themselves or others.
  • Red flag laws are a powerful tool to intervene when it comes to suicide. In Minnesota, nearly 80 percent of all gun deaths are from gun suicide – equalling an average of 27 hours between gun suicide deaths. Also, the gun suicide rate in the most rural counties of the state is twice as high than in the most urban areas.

Statistics about gun violence in Minnesota are available here, and information on how Minnesota’s gun laws compare to other states’ overall is available here.

If you have questions, or to request an interview with a volunteer from Minnesota Moms Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.