City Legislative Agenda on Guns
This morning, the Council's Committee of the Whole voted to support a new slate of priority and support items for the City's state and federal legislative agendas on guns. I strongly supported this action. This is the time for Minneapolis policymakers to stand up and defend our community from gun violence, and I'm proud that we are responding to the tragedy of Sandy Hook - and the tragedies that occur on an ongoing basis in Minneapolis neighborhoods, like the death of Neengco Xiong.
It's important to understand that some of the items on this new gun-specific part of our state agenda are in the current agenda; they're just spread out within the public safety section. We are getting clearer about our focus on guns by putting all of our existing and new positions in one central location.
We're also taking a stand on federal gun policy by explicitly supporting President Obama's “Now is the Time: The President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence.” In doing so, we join (according to Gallup) large majorities - indeed, on most of the specifics, overwhelming supermajorities - of the American people.
I also pushed for more discussion of restrictions on handgun possession and especially purchase by people under the age of 21. One of the key points made at the Mayors' Gun Summit was that communities that have restricted access to handguns by people between 18 and 21 have seen significant reductions in gun violence. We will hear more on this at the next Committee of the Whole.
Of the staff proposals, one item - a priority item that would require guns being carried in public to be concealed - was postponed for more work and discussion. Another - a priority item attempting to clarify that someone carrying a gun without a permit in someone else's yard should be defined as carrying that gun "in public" - was moved forward with a staff direction to further clarify our language.
I should note that I have received several fairly hysterical emails from gun enthusiasts opposing the Council's action today, questioning my fidelity to my oath of office, excoriating the Council for even considering gun policy, and misunderstanding the difference between requesting more legal authority and overstepping our current legal authority. Only two of these emails were from people who clearly indicated that they were Minneapolis residents (and one of those is a well-known extreme conservative with whom I disagree on virtually everything). I will be responding to the points raised in these emails later, in an 'open letter' on this blog.
The specific policies the Council supported this morning are below the fold.
Reducing Gun Violence
- Create a gross misdemeanor offense for carrying a firearm while under the influence.
- Reduced access to firearms and revoke firearms permits for those who have experienced a mental health incident that required the intervention of law enforcement, such as a 72-hour hold. Current law restricts access to firearms for those having been adjudicated as having a mental health limitation.3
- Amend Minnesota law to clarify the definition of a "public place" for those carrying a pistol without a permit. In State v. Yang (2012) the Minnesota Supreme Court identified the need for this clarification when they found carrying a pistol without a permit in a private yard is not carrying a pistol in public, even when the person is not the owner of the property and was not invited by the owner. This clarification would also resolve an inconsistency in law regarding the proper transport of a rifle, BB gun or shotgun.
- Amendment to the state law that preempts the ability of local jurisdictions to implement firearms safety ordinances appropriate to that community.
Reducing Gun Violence
- Prohibit those convicted of actual or attempted domestic abuse by strangulation from possessing a firearm.
- Increased discretionary power for municipalities to grant or deny firearm permits.
- Creation of a legislatively mandated, multi-disciplinary gun violence policy committee to look in-depth at Minnesota's gun laws, and to make recommendations to the legislature.
- Require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms.
- Require criminal background checks for all gun sales
- Strengthen the background check system
- Get military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines off the street
- Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime
- End the freeze on gun violence research
- Preserve the rights of health care providers to protect their patients and communities from gun violence
- Encourage gun owners to live up to their responsibility to store guns safely
- Put up to 1,000 more school resource officers and counsellors in schools and help schools invest in safety
- Ensure every school has a comprehensive emergency management plan
- Create a safer climate at schools across the country
- Make sure students and young adults get treatment for mental health issues
- Ensure coverage of mental health treatment