Does Minnesota need tighter limits on access to guns?

Listeners who are part of our Public Insight Network have suggested various questions around the topic of gun control. Today’s Question: Does Minnesota need tighter limits on access to guns?

  • Mary Alice Harvey

    Yes, guns are deadly. If they were less accessible, –if there were fewer of them, readily available there would be fewer accidents (involving curious children for instance), and fewer deadly outcomes of impulsive anger. Better control over the ability of people with mental health problems and a history of violence to purchase guns would prevent a lot of tragedies.

  • jfh

    No, we don’t. Current law does a good job of limiting access. A “lot of tragedies,” Mary Alice? Name them–it’s an easy task. The real question is, would the cost of increased gun control provide a greater benefit overall. IOW, your claim is just another slippery slope argument.

    Jim H.

  • Steven

    The problem is not a surfeit of guns. The abundance of guns and our fascination with them is the symptom. The problem is that we don’t abhor violence as we should.

    Meanwhile, a gun in the home is several times more likely to be involved in an accidental death or suicide than to be used in defending against an intruder.

  • Amy

    I am going to go with the saying “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

    Clearly people who use guns to kill others have no concept of consequences nor do they have remorse for others. The two men involved in the shooting of Sgt. Bergeron of the Maplewood PD should not have been on the streets. They were given the minimum sentences for crimes committed previously and they clearly had/have no understanding of consequences and remorse. The better solution, tougher sentencing guidelines for crimes like burglary, armed robber, assaults, and other violent crimes that guns are more likely to be involved in. People get tougher sentences for possessing drugs than they do for directly harming others. Something has to give. I do think guns are a problem, but again, ultimately it is people killing people. Blaming the guns is not the answer. The solution has to be better education and tougher consequences for violent crimes.

  • Agreed with Amy.

    It is not so much the gun as it is the person behind it.

  • Alison

    As long as we have the 2nd Ammendment allowing guns to be so readily obtainable, criminals will always have ready access to guns. Increased regulation is futile.

  • BJames

    I also agree with Amy’s post. Focusing on guns isn’t going to solve anything. People were killing each other for a long time before there were guns. We should make sure we’re enforcing existing laws regarding access to guns, require gun safety training for all gun owners, and impose stronger sentences on criminals who commit violent crimes of any sort, not just the ones involving guns.

  • Devin Quince

    Alison,

    Are you saying we should remove the 2nd amendment? Guns are not deadly if used properly and if we make gun ownership illegal or more difficult it only impacts the honest folk. If a criminal is a criminal because they do not obey laws, what makes you think they would obey regulations like tighter gun control?

  • James

    NO.

    “Fear the Government That Fears Your Gun”

    If this question is asking “Does Minnesota need tighter limits on access to guns?” TO REDUCE CRIM.

    Then my response would be swift justice to anyone using a gun in a crim. Say that a bad guy or gal uses a gun to kill someone, then that act would forfeit his or her need to be alive. Yes, I’m talking death penalty. Not the play it out in the courts for years and make the lawyers rich kind of death penalty… I’m talking about the cases that a malicious murderer as occurred and the triggerman is known…. quick, publicized death.

    “Guns don’t kill people… people kill people!”

    DTOM

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    You don’t hear about law-abiding citizens going out killing people. It’s almost always someone with a long criminal record, who probably lost his/her right to own a gun long ago.

    The problem of gun violence lies with the justice system, not the Second Amendment. Violent criminals need to stay in prison for many years, and cold-blooded murderers need to be executed.

    Accidents with guns are virtually always due to stupidity and irresponsibility — just like when someone goes out driving drunk and ends up killing or maiming someone.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Gun rights are a “conservative” issue. So is being anti-abortion. So is being pro-death-penalty. So is the regulation of violent movies and video games. Does anyone besides me see a contradiction here?

  • Alison

    Yes, Devin. I’m not at all a fan of the second amendment, which was written at a much different time in history. But fear not, despite what I want there’s no chance it will be taken away from you any time soon (or in the long term for that matter).

  • Devin

    Alison,

    The text on the amendment is “Amendment II

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    Why is it so different now? The government has our troops spread so thin fighting resource wars that is is only a matter of time before someone tries to take this country by force while our forces are away. Are we to roll over and allow our freedoms to be taken away while waiting on troops that will not come? A large government such as ours needs to be watched closely and I am also mean at the state level also. You also did not address the question about why you would expect a criminal to obey regulations?

    In Frith,

    Devin

  • kennedy

    The man suspected of killing our Maplewood police officer was on parole. I believe the law in this case forbade him from having/owning a firearm. He was probably carrying the weapon concealed without a permit, which is also against the law.

    Laws restricting his access to firearms did not deter this criminal.

  • Jesse Dahl

    No, I grew up with guns and have hunted most of my life. I think we should do more in the field of gun education.

    Signed,

    A gun owning DFLer!

  • zombie

    A lot of people in Minnesota don’t even obey simple traffic laws i.e drinking and driving (yes, even one beer), stop signs, stop lights, right-of-way, speeding, …). I would think that until we can solve that issue that gun control is a topic we should not even touch.

  • Alison

    Devin, I don’t expect criminals to obey regulations, that’t the point. As long as there is a large part of the population with guns, instead of just the police and the military, criminals will have them if they want them.

    I don’t feel as strongly as you that I have the need to be able to fire at the big bad government (whoever that is), who would apparently be stalking me waiting for the opportunity to take away my freedoms were it not for the outside chance that I’m packin’ heat.

  • Al

    Devin – Last I knew our state had a well regulated malitia, the National Guard. And, if I’m not mistaken, they are provided with service weapons. They don’t need to bring them from home anymore.

  • Khatti

    Hmmmm…how do I feel about gun control? As with a lot of other things, I had surer answers to this question when I was younger and knew more. This is yet another instance where old-age, if not necessarily wisdom, has made me a political agnostic.

    I suppose that I should admit that I fit the definition of a gun-nut to a T. I’m interested in guns as collector’s items. I would be the guy who owns the Tommy Guns and the AK-47’s if finances and statute allowed. The thing I have over the rest of you is I TRUST ME! I know that all I really want to do with my guns is make the world safe from empty tin cans. I don’t suppose I can talk you into taking my word for it? No?

    On the other hand my dream arsenal does come with complications. There are not, nor are there going to be, toddlers wandering around my house. But I don’t sit in my house 24/7. I can’t think of anything I would own that would be more valuable to a criminal than my dream arsenal. Because I won’t sit in my house 24/7, I can’t in good faith, promise you that no one will ever steal my guns.

    It’s interesting that today in the commentary section a woman is defending abortion (Oh all right! The pro-choice stance to abortion.). These two subjects have a great deal in common. Both pro-choice women and gun owners view their right as the ABSOLUTE RIGHT. Take away my right to abortion, or my guns, and all those other rights aren’t a sham! “If my right to abortion/gun ownership goes, how do I know that stuff about freedom of speech, or self-incrimination, really means anything?”

    The other thing these two subjects have in common is that the opposition is appallingly paternalistic. They don’t give thought to the fact that they would be extracting something of extreme value from their fellow citizens. It hasn’t occurred to them that said, disgruntled fellow citizens might return the favor someday. Treating you fellow citizens like they’re dead is useful only if you have actually killed them.

    But how do I feel about gun control? God I don’t know anymore. I just don’t know.

  • Susan WB

    People always say, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” but the fact is that countries that have lower rates of gun ownership also have lower rates of violent crime involving guns, and lower murder rates.

    Why? Because shooting someone who’s standing 20 yards – or 20 feet – away from you feels viscerally different from killing someone with your bare hands using a knife or a blunt instrument. That’s up-close and personal, and requires a true commitment to the act. Shooting someone can be done dispassionately, as we see with drive-by shootings and random acts of violence.

    I don’t know if our society will ever change to one where handguns are not a part of the daily lives of many citizens, it’s part of our national character, for good or ill. And while I would love to see fewer handguns in the hands of our populace (and I specify handguns, I have no problem with shotguns and rifles used for hunting; I grew up in a hunting family) I honestly doubt whether increasing gun restrictions in our current society would actually make much difference. Most criminals don’t acquire their guns legally anyway – they buy them out of the trunks of cars or steal them from the law-abiding citizens. If anything the focus should be on making it much harder to acquire guns illegally (i.e. really prosecuting the heck out of illegal gun dealers) and educating the law-abiding citizens on how to prevent their guns from falling into the hands of criminals.

  • thomas

    Yes. The guy who just shot an officer in cold blood should not have had a gun.

  • Steven

    “…the fact is that countries that have lower rates of gun ownership also have lower rates of violent crime involving guns, and lower murder rates.” Is it the gun control that causes the lower rates of violent crime in those countries, or are the tighter gun laws a consequence of the citizens having a greater respect for one another and a greater abhorrence of violence than we Americans do? My hunch is, it’s the latter.

  • Cody Jarrett

    In response to Al – There was no “national guard” when the second amendment was incorporated. Militia meant “well armed citizen.”

    In response to the quote “…the fact is that countries that have lower rates of gun ownership also have lower rates of violent crime involving guns, and lower murder rates.” – Countries who have taken guns from the public (such as England and Australia) have experienced huge increases in violent crime. This is according to their own ministries of justice.

    Read Gun Facts 5.1 for the actual statistics

    http://www.jpfo.org/pdf02/gun-facts-5.1.pdf

    Pages 6-11

  • Al

    \\In response to Al – There was no “national guard” when the second amendment was incorporated. Militia meant “well armed citizen.”

    Exactly my point, Cody. I was answering Devin’s question of how the nation today is different than when the second amendment was created. Thanks for your supporting evidence.

    What I don’t get is why some who agree with the second amendment get so up in arms about people who disagree with it. It seems a little overdone. As previously pointed out, there’s clearly no danger of it being overturned. You’ve got nothing to worry about. Develop as big an arsenal as you feel necessary.

  • Devin

    Al,

    In case you do not realize it, but most of our nation guard are overseas in resource wars which defeats the purpose. The other issue is that the national guard is beholden to the fed for funding, so they now more of a federal force than a state militia.

    Devin

  • Gary F

    More laws won’t make anyone anymore safe.

    Bad people will always have guns. Look at Chicago and Washinington DC for proof.

  • There is a simple fact regarding guns and “gun control”. Too many of the wrong people are able to get their hands on guns way too easily. There is no reason not to require background checks on all gun sales. It is the responsible thing to do. With rights come responsibilities. Law abiding citizens do actually shoot people in quite large numbers when a gun is available in a time of anger, under the influence of alcohol or drugs or mental illness, etc. That is one problem. We have a culture in our country that allows that guns are a good way to defend oneself against all kinds of unknowns out there. It is very rare to have to use a gun in self defense. When a gun is in the home, it is much more likely to be used against you or someone in the home in an accidental shooting, suicide or homicide. Those are facts. I did not make that up.

    The second problem is all the loopholes in our existing gun laws. If we extended Brady background checks to unlicensed sellers at gun shows, we could stop some of the illegal gun trafficking and could stop another Columbine or Virginia Tech. The Columbine shooters got their guns from a friend who purchased from an unlicensed seller at a gun show. That’s a fact. Cho’s name ( the Virginia Tech shooter) should have been on the prohibited purchasers list but was not. That’s a fact. Since the Brady law was enacted over 1.6 million prohibited people have been prevented from buying guns from licensed sellers. That’s a fact.

    Terrorists on the terror watch list can buy guns legally. Is that insane or what? Either you want terrorists to have guns or you don’t. And yet, the gun lobby has some in Congress tied in knots trying to explain why prohibiting terrorists from getting guns would harm all of our second amendment rights. Nonsense at best. It is time to stand up to the powerful and well-funded gun lobby who keeps us so afraid to challenge them that we put up with 30,000 gun deaths a year in this country. In just 2 years, more people die from gunshot injuries than in the entire Vietnam War. Why do we tolerate this? Ask your elected leaders to be in favor of common sense and to stand up to the NRA to do the right thing. No one’s rights will be affected except the felons and domestic abusers and mentally ill people. No one’s guns will be confiscated. That is just silliness and scare tactics and nonsense. As someone who has lost a loved one to a gunshot injury, I don’t want others to go through what my family did. But every day, hundreds do. This is ridiculous public policy.

  • .45 Colt

    To those who say criminals don’t obey laws, and will get a gun if they want one, consider this:

    “Law abiding” gun owners are the source of guns for criminals. One example: Unlicensed gun sellers at gun shows. Require them to have background checks on prospective buyers, and that will help eliminate one source.

    Licensed sellers can sell any number of handguns to one buyer. (ATF needs to know when more than 5-are sold). Limit the number to one-a-month, and that will slow down the straw buyers.

    We need to fix it so criminals aren’t the deciders on where and how many guns they can buy. Stealing guns? That’s another problem. But, that’s a lot harder than buying them.

  • S H

    “Tighter limits” in the abstract doesn’t really say anything. The proposed changes in the law are specific, and the questions should be, too — e.g., “Should someone who fails a background check be able to buy guns at a gun show?” “Should someone on the terrorist ‘no-fly’ list be able to buy guns?”

    Or, if it must be general, how about “what can we do to reduce gun deaths?”