MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Mark Dayton urged lawmakers to take action to reduce gun violence with what he calls “common sense legislation” — in a last-ditch effort before the session ends.

Surrounded by invested students, Dayton said there is no time for legislators to wait to pass gun safety measures. He is calling on Republicans to act.

“Enough hiding behind committees and emotions,” Dayton said. “Time to take action.”

The students saw firsthand the swell of people who want a safer country during the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. And they are committed to raising awareness and reducing gun violence in Minnesota.

“In the last decade of available data, 673 Minnesota residents were murdered with guns, and an additional 83 died in accidental shootings or shootings of undetermined intent,” said Henry Sibley High School senior Jorge Hernandez.

(credit: CBS)

In February, Patrick Henry High School went on lock down after a man with a gun was seen entering the school. The event, which happened days after the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, affected students like Elliot Gunderman.

“As students in America, we shouldn’t have to focus on if we will have a ‘Code Red’ tomorrow,” said Gunderman, a junior at Patrick Henry. “We should be focused on our grades, college entrance exams and our future. Without gun control, that won’t be possible. Not one more.”

Lawmakers have tried with a 24-hour sit-in at the Capitol to protest the lack of action. And bills have been introduced, but gone nowhere.

That is why students are raising their voice, alongside the governor, to make sure legislators know where they stand.

“To legislators who hide behind the NRA and choose to do nothing, we have one message — we will vote you out,” another student said.

Republicans did not have anything to say in response to gun reform. They did offer statements on safer schools.

Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester): The national debate on school safety has been focused in the wrong direction. Safe schools aid can be used to make school buildings safer, hire more school resource officers, mental health professionals, school counselors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and alcohol dependency counselors. We want our schools to be safer, and for schools to be able to provide mental health and counseling services. Every school is different and we want to empower those who know their students and school best.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa): Senate Republicans led the way on school safety, introducing legislation just days after the Parkland tragedy to make sure children across Minnesota are safe when they go to school each day. Nothing could be more important, and that’s why it’s the centerpiece of this bill.

Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-District 48B): I am dedicated to working for our schools, students and parents, championing changes that positively impact student safety. Fortunately, there is quite a bit of overlap on policy ideas being proposed by the House and by the Governor’s office on the topic of student safety, and those complementary ideas make me optimistic we can make significant strides in enhancing student and school safety this session.

Jennifer Mayerle