LTE: Gun bills bad news for Minnesota communities

To the editor,
In our busy lives, it can be challenging to stay on top of legislation which is being presented at our state Capitol by those who represent us. Jim Nash, state representative for district 47A which includes Waconia, is the author of two bills which are terrifying to me. One is HF 238 which is labeled “Stand Your Ground.” The other bill is labeled “Permitless Carry bill (HF 188 and 309). Both bills have Senate files also: SF292 and SF 649, 650, respectively.

The Stand Your Ground bill has the potential to allow anyone who feels threated anywhere, anytime, to use deadly force. This is veiled racism. It does raise very real concerns for black and brown people as was evidenced in the public hearing on this bill on Wednesday, March 8. This bill also eliminates the duty to retreat. Trayvon Martin’s killer successfully used this defense. Currently, there is a case pending in Florida where stand your ground is being used as a possible defense for shooting and killing a person who threw popcorn in the face of a disgruntled fellow movie-goer when he (the shooter) didn’t get his way. Update: this case is going to trial with a second degree murder charge. Per Moms Demand Action, an organization for sensible gun laws to avoid gun violence, “States with Stand Your Ground laws have more homicides than states without such laws. Florida has seen a 32 percent increase and Missouri has seen a 23 percent increase in firearm homicides since Stand Your Ground was put in place.”

The Permitless Carry bill allows anyone who is eligible to possess a gun to carry a loaded gun in public without first taking a gun safety class or undergoing a background check. Both the class and the background check are required under current law. Additionally, the age limit for possession and carrying a firearm is lowered to 18 from 21. Scientists have learned that teen brains are not fully developed and their emotions can run high. If this law passes, there is the possibility that the number of school shootings may increase.

Membership groups representing police officers and county attorneys spoke out strongly against the proposed legislation as did individuals who have been affected by gun violence. I stand with them. Our police officers already put their lives on the lines for us– let’s not make their job even more difficult.

I see no reason for these laws to be on the books in Minnesota or anywhere else. Gun deaths are already an epidemic in the US compared to other developed nations. Among the rights granted to us by our forefathers are those of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” These proposed laws certainly do not make me happy and I believe they threaten life itself, especially those of our children and our neighbors of color. Sometimes we need to give up individual rights in the interest of public safety and the common good. I believe this is one of those times.

I urge you to contact Rep. Jim Nash and Sen. Dr. Scott Jensen with your views on these two bills.

Barbara Brooks