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Northland Lawmakers Weigh in on Gun Reform

Ryan Juntti/STEVE KARNOWSKI
Updated: February 11, 2020 06:46 PM

The 2020 Minnesota legislative session is now underway. In the opening day Tuesday, lawmakers debated how much to borrow for public infrastructure projects, and a host of other contentious issues that divide Democrats and Republicans.

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Another issue that has historically been divided between the two parties is gun reform.

Before the House and Senate convened, chants rained down from the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. The group is urging lawmakers to take action on gun reform.

The group's main goals are for background checks to be expanded to include all gun sales and implementing red flag laws.

“Minnesotans are begging and pleading with us to do something about it, and on the first day of session you hear people up chanting and they are people that have come down to the Capitol to ask us to do something about gun violence prevention,” said DFL Rep. Liz Olson of Duluth.

Olson says she supports expanding background checks, but Republican Rep. Sandy Layman, who represents the Grand Rapids area says she would not.

“I think we’re probably looking in the wrong area if we’re trying to control who has a gun and who doesn’t have a gun,” said Layman.

Last year the House passed two gun violence prevention bills that were ultimately voted down by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Olson is hoping the Senate will take action on the bills this year.

"We think about it in these big ways but really in our own community, something as suicide prevention, intimate partner violence, we would see such an impact if we passed these two laws,” said Olson.

Layman doesn't think more laws are the answer.

“It’s not adding new laws that’s going to make a difference. I think when we look at each of the incidents that have been publicized, and we look at our existing laws, we say, 'you know what, a new law would not have prevented this death,' " said Layman.

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Ryan Juntti/STEVE KARNOWSKI

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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