ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — One member of the Minnesota legislature has been protesting on the House floor since before noon Tuesday.
DFL Representative Erin Maye Quade of Apple Valley is sitting in to speak out on gun violence.
“There is a wide loophole that allows people to purchase guns privately and not go through a background check,” she said from the House floor. “Guns kill people, and to possess something that can kill people — we should know that you’re lawfully allowed to possess it.”
All along, Maye Quade has been telling the stories of people who were killed or hurt by gun violence in Minnesota, like the grandmother from north Minneapolis — Birdell Beeks.
“She was shot and killed in May 2016. The man who killed her was a felon, who should now have had a gun — prohibited purchaser,” Maye Quade said.
The sit-in began at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. Maye Quade is pushing for several gun reform bills to go up for a vote before lawmakers, including one bill that would require universal background checks.
Birdell Beeks was killed after being caught in gang violence crossfire. Her daughter rallied with gun control advocates outside the capitol Tuesday night.
“That day, I could have lost two people, actually, because my 16-year-old daughter was in the car with her at the time,” Bunny Beeks said.
The day-long sit-in has drawn the respect of pro-gun advocates, but not their support when it comes to voting on gun bills.
“Criminals are already circumventing the current background check process to acquire firearms,” Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus political director Rob Doar said. “Adding additional layers to that is only going to affect law-abiding citizens, not criminals.”
At least 26 different gun safety bills have been introduced in 2018, including measures on universal background checks. Only two of those got a hearing and they were both defeated.
Maye Quade is also citing a recent Star Tribune poll, which found 90 percent of Minnesotans favor universal background checks.