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Democratic gains raise odds for gun control in Minnesota

A shift in the balance of power at the state Capitol has boosted the odds of lawmakers passing bills to reduce gun violence during the upcoming legislative session.

Posted: Dec 17, 2018 6:46 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A shift in the balance of power at the state Capitol has boosted the odds of lawmakers passing bills to reduce gun violence during the upcoming legislative session.

The Democratic takeover of the Minnesota House includes so many freshmen who support tougher gun laws that staunch gun control opponents now consider the chamber to be hostile territory. The Senate, where the GOP maintains a one-vote majority, remains a question mark, though the chamber's top Republican, Majority Leader Paul Gazelka of Nisswa, has signaled "some openness" to discussing gun proposals that got blocked in previous sessions .

Sen. Ron Latz, a Democrat from St. Louis Park, said he expects some kind of bill will become law for universal background checks for gun purchasers. He said he also expects approval of a "red flag" law that would let families and police get court orders to temporarily take guns away from people who are a danger to themselves or others. He lost a procedural effort to force a vote on both proposals last session.

"We have a pretty good chance this year of convincing suburban legislators who might have been reluctant in the past to vote for these bills."

That's because Democratic gains in the House came at the expense of suburban Republicans. No senators were up for re-election, but several suburban Republican senators could be vulnerable if the trend continues for 2020.

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety organization backed many of the Democrats who flipped Republican seats. Its affiliate, Moms Demand Action, and an allied group, Protect Minnesota, plan a big lobbying push starting on the first day of the session, when they'll kick off their campaign with a rally at the Capitol.

Suburban voters in general, and suburban mothers in particular, tend to support "reasonable measures" to keep guns from people who shouldn't have them and remove them from people who pose an immediate threat, said Sen. Scott Jensen of Chaska, one of two Senate Republicans who supported background checks in 2018.

In the House, Rep. Dave Pinto, a Ramsey County prosecutor, was the lead sponsor of the two bills last session. He said there's a "significant chance" his background checks bill will take a more flexible approach this time, relying on permits to purchase guns instead of requiring a background check at a gun shop at the time of each sale.

"I don't think people are in the mood for broken politics anymore," the St. Paul Democrat said. "They're in a mood to get things done."

While Jensen and Sen. Paul Anderson of Plymouth broke ranks with fellow Republicans last session, their votes won't be enough for a Senate majority.

That's because some rural Democratic senators have been reliable votes against gun restrictions, said Rob Doar, political director of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, which advocates for defending the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. He named Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook, and Sens. David Tomassoni of Chisholm, Kent Eken of Twin Valley and Dan Sparks of Austin.

But gun control supporters have an ally in Gov.-elect Tim Walz, who got "A'' grades from the National Rifle Association in his early years in Congress before breaking with the gun lobby after the mass shootings in Las Vegas and at a Florida high school.

Gun control opponents say Republicans shouldn't forget who their friends have been.

"If Paul Gazelka wants to maintain his Senate majority in 2020, he will not stab gun owners in the back by doing a deal on gun control," said Ben Dorr, political director of Minnesota Gun Rights, which touts itself as the state's only "no compromise" gun rights group. "... If there are any heroes of the Second Amendment in the Senate, now would be the time for them to step forward."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 62993

Reported Deaths: 1731
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin19873842
Ramsey7827270
Dakota4610106
Anoka3841115
Stearns292820
Washington222748
Olmsted179123
Nobles17777
Scott163422
Mower11112
Rice10468
Blue Earth9465
Wright9185
Carver8993
Clay79440
Sherburne75310
Kandiyohi7141
St. Louis62120
Todd4302
Lyon4263
Watonwan3671
Freeborn3611
Nicollet35613
Steele3562
Benton3253
Winona26616
Beltrami2640
Crow Wing25214
Le Sueur2301
McLeod2240
Martin2105
Chisago2091
Goodhue2059
Otter Tail2044
Cottonwood1780
Becker1621
Pipestone1589
Polk1564
Waseca1561
Carlton1470
Itasca14612
Douglas1442
Isanti1370
Unassigned13546
Dodge1310
Pine1290
Murray1251
Chippewa1171
Morrison941
Wabasha930
Brown922
Faribault920
Meeker872
Rock860
Sibley862
Koochiching833
Cass802
Jackson790
Pennington751
Mille Lacs733
Fillmore720
Renville675
Lincoln610
Grant563
Swift561
Roseau530
Yellow Medicine530
Pope480
Houston450
Aitkin411
Norman400
Kanabec372
Redwood370
Hubbard360
Wilkin353
Marshall290
Wadena280
Mahnomen271
Big Stone250
Red Lake240
Lake220
Stevens180
Clearwater140
Traverse130
Lac qui Parle80
Cook50
Lake of the Woods40
Kittson30

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 50230

Reported Deaths: 955
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10612210
Woodbury377052
Black Hawk320066
Linn245689
Johnson213820
Dallas193235
Buena Vista180012
Scott176815
Dubuque173431
Marshall145627
Pottawattamie136729
Story118915
Wapello93435
Muscatine86048
Webster8498
Crawford7393
Cerro Gordo65617
Sioux6533
Warren5861
Tama55729
Jasper48427
Wright4821
Plymouth47912
Clinton4344
Dickinson3844
Louisa37814
Washington30510
Boone2723
Franklin25512
Hamilton2551
Bremer2337
Clarke2063
Clay2021
Carroll2012
Des Moines1992
Emmet1934
Shelby1881
Hardin1860
Marion1830
Floyd1673
Benton1621
Jackson1601
Poweshiek1608
Allamakee1584
Mahaska14217
Henry1404
Guthrie1385
Buchanan1351
Cedar1351
Jones1352
Butler1312
Lee1294
Madison1282
Hancock1242
Humboldt1241
Delaware1231
Lyon1232
Pocahontas1212
Harrison1131
Cherokee1101
Clayton1093
Winneshiek1021
Page1000
Taylor1000
Iowa981
Kossuth970
Mills941
Monona920
Winnebago920
Palo Alto910
Fayette900
Calhoun872
Cass871
Jefferson870
Sac860
Osceola850
Grundy831
Union811
Mitchell800
Monroe758
Lucas734
Worth680
Davis612
Montgomery614
Chickasaw600
Appanoose523
Howard510
Fremont450
Greene420
Keokuk401
Adair380
Van Buren381
Ida330
Audubon291
Decatur270
Ringgold231
Wayne211
Adams170
Unassigned20
Rochester
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