After pressure, Swanson supports gun control measures

Minnesota attorney general Lori Swanson announces she is running for governor with U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan as her running mate during a press conference at the Marquette Hotel in Minneapolis on June 4, 2018. Lacey Young | MPR News

In the midst of a heated DFL primary for governor, candidate and Attorney General Lori Swanson said Monday that she supports several gun control measures, including “enhanced” background checks and banning the devices known as bump stocks.

Swanson’s campaign issued a press release stating her position on several proposals after receiving pressure from a group supporting tougher gun laws to sign a campaign pledge. She has said she will not sign pledges in her campaign. In the release, Swanson didn’t specify what types of enhancements she would support regarding background checks for purchasing a firearm.

Gun control has been at the forefront of the political debate in national and state politics this year after the February shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Swanson is competing in an August 14 primary against U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and state Rep. Erin Murphy.

“No child should be afraid to go to school, and no parent should be afraid to put their child on the morning bus, because of violence.  We secure our courthouses and airports. We should make our schools safe too,” Swanson said in the release.

Swanson also said she supports “red flag” laws, which allow law enforcement to petition a judge to take weapons from people who are dangerous to themselves or others. She expressed frustration that more funding was not passed last legislative session for school safety measures.

“Arming teachers is not the answer,” she added.

“Minnesota is the fourth worst state in the country for the ratio of school counselors to students, with 723 students for every counselor. We can do better than that, and I will help our schools to do better than that,” she said.

Swanson, the latest entrant into the governor’s race, has been criticized for a past campaign endorsement from the National Rifle Association, which gave her an A+ rating in 2010. She’s not the only DFL candidate trying to navigate the gun issue this year: Walz has been criticized for past donations to his campaign from the NRA. He has since donated that money to charity.

In an email to the group Protect Minnesota, which supports stricter gun laws and had asked her to sign a pledge, Swanson said she has “never taken a penny from the NRA.”

As governor, Swanson said she’d also oppose what are known as stand your ground proposals, and bills to eliminate permit requirements or loosen rules for carrying a gun on school campuses.

In a rare campaign attack, Murphy said Monday that Swanson’s positions on gun control are “half measures.”

“Folks have always known where I stand on gun violence, and as governor, I will keep fighting to keep our communities and kids safe,” Murphy said in a statement.

“It means background checks on all guns – no exceptions, prohibiting the sale of military-style assault weapons, restrictions on high-capacity magazines, and lifting the ban on research of gun violence as a public health issue,” she added.

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