Northstar Conference Targets Gun Violence in Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS – Gun violence kills or injures almost 1,000 Minnesotans a year.
And some of the best minds in the state aim to do something about it during the Northstar Public Health Conference on Gun Violence in downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday and Thursday.
Rev. Nancy Nord Bence, executive director of Protect Minnesota, says the solutions do not involve confiscating guns as much as finding ways to keep them out of reach of people most likely to use them against themselves and others.
"We are so busy treating this like a political football that we’re not treating it as it should be treated as a public health epidemic in our state that affects different communities in Minnesota differently and for which there are actual solutions," she states.
Nord Bence says the first day's theme is guns and mental illness. The second day will be about gun violence in urban communities.
Workshops will feature law enforcement and public health professionals as well as experts on domestic abuse, mental illness and racial and economic disparities.
The public is welcome to attend.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 78 percent of gun deaths in Minnesota over the last decade were suicides, a disproportionate number of them in rural Minnesota.
Nord Bence is a Lutheran pastor who says she ministered to six different families victimized by suicide before taking the job at Protect Minnesota.
"We do have to recognize that some people, either because they're suicidal or for other reasons, shouldn't have access to lethal means," she stresses.
Nord Bence says research shows fewer gun deaths where background checks are required for all gun sales, not just those at dealers, which is what Minnesota requires.
The Northstar Public Health Conference on Gun Violence is co-sponsored by the Minnesota Public Health Association, the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and the Nobel Peace Prize Forum.