Local Lawmakers React to Capitol Sit In Over Gun Legislation
Just outside the doors of the House Chambers, dozens of people in favor of stronger gun-control laws gathered to make their voices heard Wednesday morning.
But inside the House Chambers, a group of lawmakers were making noise in a different way.
“It’s going. My butt is sore. My spirits are high,” said Rep. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley.
When she spoke to CCX News, she was 22 hours into a 24-hour sit-in.
It was her way of protesting the fact that House leadership have not allowed debates, or votes, on two bills related to gun-control.
“I’m not a member of the majority party, I’m not a member of the public safety committee,” Maye Quade said. “There’s not a lot I can do, but I can do this. And that’s why I’m doing this.”
Dozens of fellow lawmakers joined her periodically throughout the sit-in, including DFL Rep. Mike Freiberg of Golden Valley.
“I’m supporting my colleague,” Rep. Freiberg said. “I mean, it’s drawing attention to the issue. I feel like the more pressure there is on the House leadership to at least have a vote on this issue, the more likely it will occur.”
One bill at the heart of this gun-control sit-in would require background checks on all firearm sales. A recent Star Tribune poll suggested that 90 percent of Minnesotans support this idea.
“And it just seems to make sense to me that we should be able to have a vote on the House floor on something that is supported by 90 percent of Minnesotans,” Freiberg said.
Yet the fact remains that the Republican majority gets to decide which bills receive a vote on the House floor.
The lawmakers taking part in the sit-in hope their efforts encourage House leaders change their minds about the gun-control legislation.
“We still have four weeks in the session, so there’s still time where this could happen,” Freiberg said.
CCX News reached out to Republican lawmaker Dennis Smith of Maple Grove Wednesday afternoon. He said his party wants to focus on bills related to a larger safety discussion involving guns, such as those bolstering school security and mental health services.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus argues that criminals are already circumventing the current background check process to acquire firearms, and adding additional layers to that is only going to affect law-abiding citizens.
A gun owners rally is planned for Saturday from noon – 2 p.m. at the Capitol.