LETTER: Time to talk about it

To the Editor:

 

Background checks save lives. The data overwhelmingly backs that up. That's why under federal and Minnesota law, licensed gun dealers are required to do background checks so that people with dangerous histories can be prohibited from buying guns. This includes convicted felons, domestic abusers and people with severe mental illnesses. 

Sounds reasonable enough, but there's a loophole. The law doesn't apply to unlicensed gun sellers, which includes private sellers. So, if someone knows they can't pass a background check, they still have a way to buy a gun, undetected.

In a related issue, the CDC reported that 39,773 people in the United States died from gunshot wounds in 2017. Almost two-thirds of those deaths were suicides.

The Minnesota House has proposed two measures to address these issues. One expands background checks to close the "private sale" loophole. The other allows police officers to request a temporary Extreme Risk Protection Order when someone is a risk to themselves or others. The process for approving the order would follow the process for obtaining a domestic violence restraining order, requiring a legal hearing. This measure is often called a "red flag" law.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Public Safety Committee Chair Warren Limmer are refusing to hold hearings on either measure this session, saying there isn't enough time.

Gun violence has reached epidemic proportions. I think it's time to talk about it. Let your state senator know that you want a hearing for these bills this session.

 

Robert Barbeau

Inver Grove Heights

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