Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here: http://secondward.blogspot.com/2006/05/disclaimer.html#links

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Making Minnesota Arizona

Some legislators in the Minnesota Legislature have put forward a list of pro-gun, pro-violence bills designed to make Minnesota like Arizona - if not worse. That's right, some of our state law makers apparently want Minnesota to emulate the state that is rated second-worst in the nation by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the state called "the Tombstone of the United States of America" by Pima County, AZ Sherrif Clarence Dupnik.

1) Shoot First. This bill would allow people to shoot anyone you don't know if they set foot on your property - including a fenced yard. This appears to mean that any political candidate, volunteer, canvasser, delivery person, or mailman who happens to walk onto the wrong property at the wrong time could be legally shot and killed. It will also eliminate the "rule of retreat" that means if a person can safely walk away from a situation, they are not entitled to kill someone just because they seem threatening. It would also allow the killing of anyone in a public place who seems "threatening." Arizona has a version of this law on the books.

2) Guns on campus: This bill would prohibit state colleges and universities - including the University of Minnesota, located in the Second Ward - to ban concealed guns on campus. Yes, you read that right: the state legislature, rather than school administrators, would make the decision for every school in the state. A gun in every classroom. (This is even worse than the current state of law in Arizona, which does not yet have this law in place. But just like in Minnesota, elected officials in the Arizona legislature have introduced a mandatory guns-on-campus bill.)

3) Proliferation of Assault Weapons. Minnesota is home to at least one assault weapon manufacturer. This bill would exempt any assault weapon manufactured in Minnesota and sold in Minnesota from Federal background checks. (It also relies on the extremely dubious "tenther" belief that the Federal government has overstepped the authority granted by the Interstate Commerce clause of the Constitution.) Though we should give credit where due: the Republicans have found some limits on weapons that they can live with. The bill wouldn't apply to cannons, bazookas, rocket-propelled grenades, or any weapon "that cannot be carried and used by one person."

4) These aren't the only bad ideas being cooked up by law makes on guns. They're also trying - because the Second Amendment isn't enough? - to push through a Minnesota Constitutional amendment to "keep, bear and use arms." This would open the door to lawsuits attempting to undermine what few laws we have on the books seeking to protect the population from guns. The laws that differentiate Minnesota from Arizona - an age limit of sixteen to buy guns, gun permit processes involving law enforcement, background checks longer than 3 days, police inspection of gun dealers and requirements that gun dealers put security in place to prevent guns from being stolen - would be threatened.

It seems to me that these ideas are moving us in the wrong direction. In Minneapolis, I think we should be doing more to control and regulate guns, not less. Unfortunately, (as I have said before) even if the entire City Council supported enacting legislation regulating guns in Minneapolis, we would be unable to do so because in 1985 the state legislature took away Minneapolis’ authority to do so.

Before it does anything to protect people's ability to buy, own and use guns, I'd prefer if the legislature would restore the cities' and counties' authority to regulate guns so that we would once again have the ability to at least register guns and restrict their use in some areas, as long as it is consistent with federal law, as Chicago and many cities in other states have done.

In the aftermath of the attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Gifford and the murders of six innocent bystanders, an event that is drawing national attention to the weak gun laws in Arizona that made such a tragedy possible, I hope these legislative efforts will quickly fall by the wayside and into the paper shredders and recycling bins at the Capitol. There may be some things about Arizona we want to emulate, but this is NOT one of them.

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