ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — As large crowds lined the State Capitol hallways for gun violence hearings, gun control advocates admit they’ve been out-organized.

And unlike other states, Mark Dayton, Minnesota’s Democratic governor, is taking a backseat role on guns.

“I believe the governor has got a lot on his plate, but…I would actually like him to be  more involved,” said R.T. Rybak, the mayor of Minneapolis. “But I do believe that common sense background checks is something he and others can support.”

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in September, at least four states have passed — or are debating — weapons bans and limits on magazine clips.

Dayton describes those kinds of efforts as “cosmetic”, but says he will support background checks.

“I am concerned about criminals and people who are really, seriously mentally ill; and I want to deal with those issues and not deal with cosmetic solutions, cosmetic approaches that are not real solutions,” he said.

Instead of assault weapons bans and ammo restrictions, Minnesota gun control advocates are now focusing their efforts on universal background checks.

But Mary Johnson, a Minneapolis mother whose son was murdered, told lawmakers that background checks are not enough.

“I pray that no one here has to go through the hell that I’ve been through because of my son being shot three times in the chest and once in the head by a 16-year-old boy that sleeps with a gun underneath his pillow,” she said.

Lawmakers are not expected to vote on gun violence bills for several weeks.

Pat Kessler

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