Editorial Roundup: Keep gun violence debate front and center

Published 8:25 pm Thursday, March 7, 2019

Why it matters: Requiring votes on gun violence prevention bills will allow voters to see where their representatives stand on this election issue.

Last year, Republicans in control of the Minnesota House and Senate shut down gun violence votes on background checks and red flag threats on procedural moves and kangaroo hearings.

Now that the DFL is in control of the House, Minnesotans will be better represented on this critical issue that many say flipped the House to Democrat control.

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Democrats have so far adhered to a much more inclusive hearing process and debate. The House public safety committee debated and heard testimony on the background check bill for hours Wednesday evening and had to adjourn the meeting at midnight. The committee heard and debated another bill regarding taking guns from those who pose a threat Thursday.

The committee passed the background check bill 9-7 along party lines.

Last year, the same committee controlled by Republicans devoted a fraction of the time to hearing very similar bills and tabled both, after a GOP member of the committee said there would be plenty of debate in the coming weeks. There was virtually none after that.

When it came time for the Republican-controlled Senate to hear the bills last year, there was also little or no debate. A proposal to discuss background checks and red flag bills on the Senate floor also fell silent (Two Democrats did vote against hearing those bills as well).

With polls showing Minnesotans and the country favor expanded background checks by margins of 70 percent to 90 percent, it’s hard to justify not even giving bills fair vetting and hearings.

As the House passes these gun violence prevention bills, the GOP-controlled Senate will be under intense pressure to act. Many of the Republicans senators represent districts where DFL House candidates beat GOP incumbents.

There will likely be an attempt to thwart hearings and votes in the Senate again, as leadership protects those who the voters might hold accountable. Above all, both parties should allow the bills to be heard and voted on. Then, the voters can decide who’s on their side in the next election.

— Mankato Free Press, Feb. 28

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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