ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers opened the election-year 2018 legislative session in St. Paul Tuesday.
State lawmakers came back to the Capitol with a long to-do list, and little time to get it all done. Right away, protesters swarmed the Capitol hallways demanding gun control.
The protests come after the shocking murders of 17 students and staff at a Florida high school, but it’s unclear whether there’s enough support to get anything done.
Protesters lined the hallways leading into the House and Senate, confronting lawmakers as they entered. Mothers like Jenny Westlund, a pre-school teacher from Blaine, expressed grief and outrage.
“I’m angry, and I’m devastated that this is the state of our society,” she said. “And I’m just praying that people come together over what is right.”
Wearing red shirts and carrying signs, the group Moms Demand Action is calling for stricter limits on access to guns and stronger background checks.
But Rep. Brian Johnson (R) — the powerful Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, where all gun bills are debated — says he may want to look at mental health and the security at Minnesota schools, not gun restrictions.
“Minnesota law is so much more strict than anywhere else, most states in this country,” he said. “We have some of the strictest laws already.”
Gun control protesters say they know it’s an uphill battle, but they’re promising to show up every week, putting pressure on lawmakers.
“Because we’re upset. We’re tired of children getting killed in schools,” Erin Zamoff of Moms Demand Action said. “Our kids should be able to go to school without fear of gun violence, and it’s outrageous that nothing has happened.”