The only thing barring Democrats from total control of Minnesota’s government is a one-seat Republican majority in the Senate, but that might not be enough to block gun-control efforts during the upcoming session.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) recently indicated that he has “some openness” on the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party’s gun-control proposals, but insisted that he’s a “strong supporter of Second Amendment rights.”
I have always been a strong supporter of 2nd amendment rights,my lifetime rating on guns is A+ or A. I’m open to discussing changes but it will have to pass a high bar. A few GOP want more gun restrictions,a few Dems don’t want more restrictions. We shall see what happens.
— Paul Gazelka (@paulgazelka) December 18, 2018
But his December 18 tweet sparked some optimism among DFL legislators, who now believe they “have a pretty good chance this year of convincing suburban legislators who might have been reluctant in the past to vote for these bills,” Sen. Ron Latz (D-St. Louis Park) told KSTP.
Latz said the DFL is looking at two specific gun-control policies, namely universal background checks in the state as well as a “red flag” law, which allows the state to temporarily seize guns from people who are deemed a danger to themselves or others.
As Battleground State News reported Thursday, House Speaker-designate Melissa Hortman (D-Brooklyn Park) said a “gun violence prevention measure” can be expected in a package of bills introduced in January.
Rob Doar, vice president and political director of Minnesota’s Gun Owners Caucus, noted that there “are several legislators within [Gazelka’s] caucus that have entertained gun control items, so it may be difficult for him to be able to say for certain about the GOP’s ability to stop some items from passing.”
“[He] has been essentially non-committal on any policy provisions leading up to session. His approach seems to be to say he’s willing to have a discussion about any policy items, without actually supporting anything specific,” Doar told Battleground State News.
“Nevertheless, we will work diligently to ensure that no new gun control passes this session. I’ll be down at the Capitol every day this session,” he added.
Taking things a step further, the Minnesota Gun Rights organization suggested that if 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.”
“If there are any heroes of the Second Amendment in the Senate, now would be the time for them to step forward,” the statement continued.
Gazelka later tried to clarify his comments, saying he’s “not interested in restricting gun rights.”
Republican Leader Paul Gazelka and Democrats Consider Restricting Gun Rights https://t.co/weGwrtgM9C. Clarification.I’m Not interested in restricting gun https://t.co/xSavUfvzgu focus will be making schools safer,and more focus on mental health.Others will want to go beyond that.
— Paul Gazelka (@paulgazelka) December 23, 2018
“My focus will be making schools safer, and more focus on mental health,” he said. “Others will want to go beyond that.”
Incoming Gov.-elect Tim Walz (D-MN) would likely sign into law any gun-control measures that pass the House and Senate. Walz previously had an A rating from the NRA and took campaign contributions from the group, but has significantly changed his positions in recent years. In an op-ed in The Star Tribune published after announcing his bid for governor, Walz attributed the policy shift to the Parkland, Florida school shooting.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Minnesota State Senate” by Chris Gaukel. CC BY-SA 2.0.