MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota lawmaker is holding an all-day, all-night protest vigil at the State Capitol.
DFL Representative Erin Maye Quade is protesting what she says is a lack of action at the Capitol on gun bills despite widespread public support.
Maye Quade began her sit-in in the Minnesota House at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, and she will remain there for 24 hours.
A recent Star Tribune Minnesota poll found 90 percent of Minnesotans favor universal background checks.
Maye Quade says gun bills face strong resistance, even after a series of mass shootings nationwide.
“I was so frustrated, and I felt the frustration of the moms and the students and the parents and the Minnesotans who are now aware that a policy that is supported by 90 percent of our state cannot get a vote on this floor,” said Rep. Erin Maye Quade said. “Last night, I just didn’t know what else to do except sit here and tell those stories and let those people know that I’m trying just as hard as I can to get what they want done.”
Maye Quade also spent time telling the stories of gun violence victims, like Birdell Beeks, who was caught in a crossfire in north Minneapolis in 2016.
“[The shooter] should not have had a gun, my mom should be alive, my mom should be here, she meant the world to our family,” said Bunny Beeks, Birdell’s daugther.
She was rallying outside the Capitol Tuesday with Protect Minnesota, a group that supports common sense gun laws. They organized in support of Maye Quade’s sit-in.
The act has drawn respect from pro-gun advocates, but not their support when it comes to voting on gun bills.
“Criminals are already circumventing the current background check process acquire firearms. Adding additional layers to that is only going to affect law-abiding citizens, not criminals,” said Rob Doar, political director for the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus.
Doar said 95 percent of the caucus’ members are against the proposed legislation, and opposition to the bills has come from both sides of the aisle.
“[The gun reform issue] should be a thing where all of us come together and resolve,” said DFL Rep. Ilhan Omar, who joined Maye Quade for part of the sit-in.
At least 26 different gun safety bills have been introduced this year at the Capitol, including a universal background check.
Only two got a hearing, and both were defeated. No further votes are planned.