0811 poll results

The Free Press

A majority of area respondents agree the Minnesota Legislature and Congress should review stricter gun control measures in the wake of recent mass shootings, according to a Free Press online question.

Out of 391 total respondents, 261 voters supported state and federal lawmakers taking up more gun control measures. Another 126 disagreed.

The U.S. was rocked when two mass shootings took place in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas within 24 hours of each other more than a week ago.

The two shooters combined killed 31 people, injuring dozens more and once more reviving the ongoing debate surrounding expanding background checks to include all private gun sales and transfers.

Democrats would like the Legislature and Congress to approve expanded background checks and pass so-called “red flag” laws that would allow police to temporarily take away a person’s guns if they were deemed a threat to themselves or others. Progressives are also calling for a ban on assault-style guns.

Republicans say those measures likely wouldn’t stop future mass shootings. Instead, lawmakers should concentrate on ensuring current gun laws are enforced and boosting mental health funding.

On the federal level, President Donald Trump has expressed support for expanded background checks but said last week he doesn’t believe Congress will agree on a bill.

The Free Press online question, sent out Friday, asked, “Should Minnesota and Congress take up stricter gun control measures in the wake of recent mass shootings?”

There were two options to answer, “yes” and “no.”

Commenters were divided over whether stricter gun control laws would prevent or reduce gun violence in the U.S.

Some argued the issue shouldn’t revolve around gun laws — Minnesota has some of the most stringent gun laws in the nation — but rather mental health solutions. Others said enacting more gun laws likely wouldn’t have any discernible effect on the nation’s rate of gun violence. And others pointed out the rate of gun deaths in the U.S. is far lower than other kinds of deaths, such as traffic accidents.

“Minnesota already has stricter gun laws than many states,” Gary Lindsay wrote. “I could understand enacting a more thorough background check. More limitation on the number of guns someone can buy in a month or year. But no ban on any certain type of weapon. That will have zero affect.”

Kim Waknitz wrote, “I voted no because we have gun laws, and I don’t agree with the red flag. Closing the loop hole on background checks is a good idea, that said I don’t think the government have a say if a family member wants to gift a family gun to another family member.”

“Whenever there is a shooting, this rhetoric goes round and round,” Scott Starrett wrote. “I am more worried about people (messing) around with their damned phone while driving.”

Proponents of gun law changes say even small measures will ultimately contribute to lowering gun violence in the U.S. Others blamed the Republican party at the state and federal level for blocking similar proposals in the past.

“This should be a no-brainer,” Paul Brandon wrote. “We’re the only country in the developed world that has as many guns as people, and we have ten times as many gun deaths as those other countries. And if someone brings up the second amendment (the one that begins, ‘A well regulated militia’), for most of the history of this nation it was interpreted as referring to the right of states to maintain National Guard units, not the right of individuals to possess firearms.”

Cindy Olson wrote, “Evidence is overwhelming that sensible measures such as licensing, red flag laws, bump stocks and automatic weapon bans, and background checks significantly reduce gun deaths. Yet on both the federal and state level, debate on these measures is squelched by the GOP Senate majorities. When the public is allowed to provide testimony, the GOP trots out their NRA lobbyist, while the testimony of emergency room physicians, police officers, prosecutors, clergy, and the families of survivors falls on deaf ears when the GOP holds the majority.”

Barbara Keating wrote, “After Sandy Hook, I approached a very conservative, libertarian, pro-gun, second amendment advocate acquaintance and asked him if we could find common ground. We did. He was good with universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons. He also wanted current gun laws more consistently enforced. So we coalition with responsible gun owners to start there.”