Minn. gun control bill sparks controversy

Samuel Vossler, Contributor

Oh, the gun violence debate. A few years ago when I was in high school, the only time I ever had to worry about guns was behind my television screen with PS4 controller in hand. Now my views on gun violence have somehow changed. At first, I really wasn’t sure why. Nothing had affected me personally, and I still really enjoy video games and laser tag. For me to figure out how I went through these changes, I had to put in some serious thought. One day, it finally occurred to me. Since I graduated from high school in 2015, there have been over a dozen major mass shootings that are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Americans all around the country.

Parkland, Orlando, Las Vegas and Dallas are just a few that have redefined our list of horrific mass shootings. Columbine was an earth-shattering catastrophe in 1999, but it doesn’t knock on the door of mass shootings today. One might think that the simplest way to reduce and to contain gun violence might be to make it illegal to own such harmful weapons. While this would not rid of the world of guns, it would make obtaining one quite a bit more difficult. Unfortunately, there is a specific group who thinks typical Americans should own weapons designed to murder high quantities of human beings in war combat. It just so happens that this same group occupies the House, Senate, and Oval Office.

Their main argument for the gun debate is that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” The problem with this logic is that it does not accurately reflects the fact that people kill people with guns. Yes, more deaths are resulted from drunk driving than from guns, but that’s why driving drunk is illegal and recently became even more so when the blood alcohol level standard dropped from .08 to .04.

While Washington is boggling mental health legislation, Minnesota legislatures, particularly DFL Representative Linda Slocum, are making big moves. Slocum has been working on a bill for the House since September. In recent years, DFL leadership prohibited Slocum from carrying out such a bill. She finally got the OK that she has been
longing for, and she is ready to play her cards. Opponents of the bill are referring to it as an armageddon.

Slocum’s gun bill will expand the category “assault weapon” to semiautomatic
pistols, rifles or shotguns and will make possessing them a felony with the exception of any that were owned previous to 2018. Those who inherit an assault weapon from a relative must undergo a background check. Such guns must never be sold and instead be turned over to the government. Possessing bump stocks, silencers or large capacity magazines would be a felony. All ammunition purchases would now have to be through a licensed dealer, and it would be illegal for anyone who owes child support to own any firearm.

Slocum’s bill is going to be more expansive than any Minnesota gun bill in recent memory. There hasn’t even been a hearing yet, but Slocum has already received a legitimate death threat. I have higher expectations for my fellow Minnesotans than the rest of the nation; I really do. But will the bill pass? It’s very doubtful.

This article first appeared in the Friday, March 23, 2018, Edition of The Echo.