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“Lie-In” Planned at State Capitol Today

April 16, 2008

St. Paul, MN – Demonstrators will be at the State Capitol at 1 p.m. this afternoon to draw attention to gun violence, illegal gun trafficking and easy access to weapons by criminals. Organizer Mary Lewis Grow with Citizens for a Safer Minnesota says 32 people, dressed in black, will lie down at the foot of the front stairs.

"We will be lying down, one by one, to symbolize the 32 people who died, one year ago today, at Virginia Tech. It was the largest mass shooting in American history."

She says 32 is also the average number of people killed nationwide every day by gun violence. And the event will last three minutes, symbolizing the short length of time it took the shooter to buy the guns he used. (A similar "lie-in" takes place today at the University of Minnesota-Duluth at noon.)

The event, according to Grow, also is an expression of outrage that state lawmakers haven't done more to reduce the chances of a Virginia Tech-type incident happening in Minnesota.

"We should be doing universal background checks. Right now, there are checks required from every federally-licensed firearms dealer. But that leaves a gaping hole, because people who go in to buy from private dealers, unlicensed dealers, are not required to go through the background check. Lots of the people who commit crimes with a gun get their guns in this way."

Opponents are concerned that more background checks would restrict gun sales to legitimate buyers, but Grow says the goal is to restrict sales to unqualified buyers.

"We have worked with gun owners in crafting the kind of legislation that we think would keep guns out of the wrong hands. This in no way affects the ability of law-abiding sports people to get their hunting guns. It doesn't affect anybody who has no reason to fear that there's something in their background that makes them an inappropriate buyer."

Grow reports there have been 11 gun-violence murders in Minnesota so far this year. She contends it's not a Second Amendment issue, but a common-sense safety issue.

More information is available online at www.endgunviolence.com.

Jim Wishner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MN