Reporting Pat Kessler
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – After the Sandy Hook shooting, a lot of folks thought gun safety bills might have a good chance of passing in Minnesota.
But for three days straight last week, hundreds of people packed legislative hearing rooms to oppose a series of gun safety bills.
The unexpectedly large opposition makes it harder for any of the gun safety bills to pass. Meanwhile, advocates of the bills say their state of the union is not good.
“The state of our union is broken, and bloodied, and violent,” said Jane Kay of One Million Moms For Gun Control.
More than a dozen gun bills are awaiting action, including an assault weapons ban, limits on high capacity magazine clips, and requiring that body armor be registered.
But Minnesota lawmakers are not on board — especially Democrats from rural areas, like Sen. Tom Saxhaug (District 5).
“In northern Minnesota, it’s just part of the culture, so it affects people a lot differently than it does [in the cities],” he said.
Saxhaug is part of a small but influential group of more conservative Democrats who won’t support gun restrictions that might interfere with hunting rights.
He supports only expanded federal background checks.
“Private-to-private, gun shows, everybody does a background check…is the way to go,” he said.
As gun safety experts made their remarks Monday, a protester interrupted, walking by with a Gadsden flag, which read “DON’T TREAD ON ME.”
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said his group – those in support of gun laws — would also like to use signs.
“I’d like to have a sign held up by children that says “Don’t Shoot On Me,” he said.
There are a dozen bills in the House and Senate related to gun violence. But the large group of Minnesota Republicans and rural Democrats could stop most, if not all, of those bills from moving forward.
President Barack Obama is expected to talk gun violence Tuesday night during his State of the Union address. Sami Rahamim, the son of the murdered owner of Accent Signage in Minneapolis, will be the guest of 5th District Congressman Keith Ellison on the floor of the US House.