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Gun Control Supporters Rally Outside Capitol

ST. PAUL (WCCO) -- Supporters of stricter gun control laws rallied Monday afternoon at the Minnesota State Capitol, urging the Minnesota legislature to pass all the bills that are before them.

In what they call the Rally for Freedom from Gun Violence, more than 200 supporters of tougher gun control packed the rally, carrying signs saying "stop gun violence."

The supporters, including Sami Rahamim, who lost his father in the Accent Signage shooting in Minneapolis last fall, say now is the time to act.

"I was at the State Of The Union this week and like the President said, we deserve a vote, you know, Cold Spring deserves a vote, Maplewood deserves a vote, Accent Signage deserves a vote," said Rahamim.

Gun control advocates believe that in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, the DFL controlling the Governor's office, the Senate and the House, the chances of getting tougher gun restrictions has never been better.

Heather Martens is with Protect Minnesota, which is a group for Minnesota gun violence prevention.

"What I am seeing that is different from years passed is that many more people are coming to us and saying, 'what can I do to help?'" said Martens.

Despite the reported wave of support, Republican Rep. Tony Cornish -- a former police chief -- says many DFL legislators have told him they will not back restrictions on ammunition or what kinds of guns can be sold here

The votes aren't there," said Cornish. "In my opinion, the ones that don't have any chance of passing are the ban on the magazines, the high-capacity they call it -- really standard to us -- and the ban on what they call an assault rifle, which we call a sporting rifle, the AR-15."

Cornish does believe bills that restrict access of guns to convicted felons and bills that limit access of weapons to those with a history of mental health problems have a better chance of passing.

Rally organizers say at minimum they believe they will get a bill expanding background checks to private sales and gun shows passed.

"People, including NRA members and hunters, are coming forward and saying background checks before a gun sale that makes perfect sense," said Martens.

Clearly, there will be some big battles over the issues of expanding background checks, banning assault weapons and limiting ammunition clips. There does seem to be some agreement on restricting the accessibility of guns to convicted felons and those who have suffered mental illness of convicted felons.

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