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Gun owners demonstrate at State Capitol as Dems seek to push new gun control laws

Gun owners demonstrate at State Capitol as DFL seeks to push new gun control laws
Gun owners demonstrate at State Capitol as DFL seeks to push new gun control laws 02:19

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A heated debate is back in center focus Thursday, as the Minnesota Gun Owners' Lobby Day returns to the state Capitol. 

"They can drop all the gun bills they want," Rev. Tim Christopher said. "They're not going to work." 

In light of recent mass shootings in California and an uptick in gun related crime in Minnesota, there's a renewed promise from democrats to pass new gun laws. With a newfound trifecta in the state government, Democrats see opportunity to pass something this legislative session. 

Two bills on the docket in this session include a push for expanded criminal background checks for all gun purchases and transfers and "red flag" laws. Red flag laws allow law enforcement, and in some cases a family member, to petition to a judge to restrict someone's ability to have firearms if they are at risk to themselves or others. 

"One of the things you're going to see here, is we're going to finally tackle this issue of common sense gun things. Making sure families have access to red flag laws, making sure we're doing serious background checks," Gov. Tim Walz said to WCCO crews earlier this week.

Those against more gun control call it "extreme and unconstitutional," and argue it won't help the state's current problem with gun violence. 

"The governor yesterday pointed to California and the recent tragic mass shootings that happened there," Minnesota Gun Owner Caucus Chair Bryan Strawser said. "California has all these laws and more. It did not stop a determined criminal from committing those atrocities."

"These gun bills that you see laying on the floor and they are trying to pass, how many of those gun bills are going to do anything for those kids that are shooting up north Minneapolis right now?," Rev. Christopher said. "As long as it takes care of their people in the suburbs. But in Minneapolis, people are shooting each other why? Because they won't prosecute gun crimes and that's what the problem is."

Aside from gun control proposals, Walz is suggesting to ban guns on Capitol grounds. It's a similar step St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter is looking to do following a shooting at a rec center earlier this month.

"There's just no reason we need handguns in recreational centers," Walz said. "There's no reason we need handguns in the state Capitol. There are things we can do that can help that." 

Folks lobbying Thursday argue it only puts the public at greater risk to restrict firearms. 

"It's important to note that the shooter was an employee of St. Paul and prohibited by St. Paul policy in carrying firearms," Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus Rob Doar said. "So, if you ask me, I'd rather have a firearm on me than be at risk of being fired at by one of Mayor Melvin Carter's employees."

Red flag laws and expanded background checks have been discussed before but have never passed both chambers at the State Capitol.

Extended: Gun owners demonstrate at State Capitol 04:17
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