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Minnesotans Join 'National Gun Violence Awareness Day'

Twenty states now have tougher gun laws, with nine legislative bills signed into law by Republican governors. (act.everytown.org)
Twenty states now have tougher gun laws, with nine legislative bills signed into law by Republican governors. (act.everytown.org)
June 7, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Every day, at least 100 Americans die from gun violence, but advocates for tougher gun laws say they're making slow but steady progress to change that.

Today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day, when many gun-law advocates will wear orange to call attention to the issue. The most recent mass shooting – in Virginia, two weeks ago – left 13 people dead and many others injured at a municipal complex.

Shannon Watts, founder of the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and author of "Fight Like a Mother," says her group's efforts have led to new gun-safety legislation in 20 states.

"It's important to remember that it isn't just the mass shootings and the school shootings,” says Watts. “It's the daily gun violence that kills 100 Americans, in city centers and in rural communities, homicides and suicides alike."

Colorado recently became the 15th state to pass a so-called "red flag" law, allowing the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves. Minnesota lawmakers debated such a law in the last legislative session, but it failed to pass after the majority voiced concerns that it could violate gun owners' constitutional rights.

Watts says changing the Constitution is not the mission of Moms Demand Action.

"This is not about undoing the Second Amendment or taking away anyone's rights,” Watts insists. “This about restoring the responsibilities that go along with gun rights that the NRA has chipped away at for decades."

Watts believes the National Rifle Association began pushing gun sales in the late 1990s to improve profit margins after realizing gun buyers were an aging demographic. She says Moms Demand Action is now six years old, and has inspired a second group, called Students Demand Action.

"I know that that will be the generation that will make sure to protect the gains we've made, but also to make sure that the gun lobby is never again writing our nation's gun laws,” says Watts.

She adds the U.S. has more guns per capita – about 300 million – than any other nation, and a higher gun death rate than any other developed nation. The Gun Violence Archive shows 40 people have been killed in mass shootings in the past 30 days.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - MN