By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said he is willing to sign gun control legislation into law this week to help curb and prevent violence.

He was one of several speakers at a rally at the State Capitol Wednesday evening, which drew a crowd that the Minnesota State Patrol estimated as being between 1,000 and 1,500 people. But gun control advocates know it is an uphill battle to get enough votes at the statehouse.

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Ralliers repeated two simple words: Do something. That has been so difficult to execute in the halls of the statehouse when it comes to gun control legislation. But after two tragic mass shootings claimed dozens of lives and hurt several more between Texas and Ohio, the people in this crowd are hopeful that enough lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are listening.

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“We’ve got to set aside the labels, and that’s what tonight’s about. It’s people of all political perspectives and backgrounds recognizing that we got to do something,” said Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips. “Anything else is a dereliction of duty.”

Phillips has been working towards that goal at the federal level, championing bills on universal background checks and the “red flag” law. But the U.S. Senate, just like on the state level in Minnesota, has stonewalled the proposals.

(credit: CBS)

“Let’s have the vote on red flags and background checks, and with this pen, we’ll sign it into law and we can do it this week and finish that,” Walz said.

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The governor asked the Senate this week to hold hearings on gun bills, but Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka responded by saying they should instead focus on mental health issues, and tougher sentencing for felons caught using guns.

“Every country has mental illness, not every country sees this level of gun violence,” said Annette Luther of Moms Demand Action. “This is about the easy access to guns in America.”

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Members of Minnesota Moms Demand Action — who helped coordinate the rally — acknowledged that no law can stop all gun violence, but all they are asking is for people in power is to simply do something before more lives are lost in such a tragic way.

“And if we don’t do something now, shame on everybody who’s in a position to affect change,” Phillips said.

Gazelka said they are looking for solutions that work and have bipartisan support, but he gave no indication of scheduling a hearing on gun bills.

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Walz ordered flags to be at half-staff since the two shootings this week. They will remain that way through Thursday.

Jeff Wagner