The Minnesota Senate’s top Republican said Monday that the state should consider paying for a police presence in every public school.
Appearing on an MPR News show the day before the new legislative session, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said that enhanced school security should be part of the debate after last week’s mass shooting in Florida that left 17 dead. He raised the idea when asked whether Minnesota lawmakers would revisit bills to restrict firearms.
“I’d be open to funding for making sure every public school has a police officer present, depending on the size of the school maybe they need more — or at least at a minimum somebody would conceal carry, which mean you would have people available to stop something like that,” said Gazelka, R-Nisswa.
It would be a tall order. There are more than 2,400 school buildings across the state, many in small towns.
Gazelka said that he doesn’t believe banning certain weapons is the answer to dealing with gun violence in school buildings and other public settings.
Gun control groups want new restrictions on the sales of AR-15 rifles and similar guns that have been used in several high-profile shooting sprees in recent years.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, said that’s unlikely to succeed.
“I know it feels good and feels easy to say we’re just going to ban these weapons,” Daudt said. “But the reality is there are so many weapons out there already. The AR-15 is certainly one that’s used commonly in these sorts of situations, but that’s just because it’s popular. It’s probably the most popular hunting gun as well. There are just so many of them sold.”
Reflecting on the Florida high school shooting, Daudt added, “I haven’t heard yet of a gun bill that we could pass that would have prevented this from happening.”
Protect Minnesota, which has worked to head off legislation that would expand gun rights, plans to rally Thursday at the Capitol “for sensible gun laws.”