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Gun Violence Touches Many Lives in Minnesota

March 22, 2010

DULUTH, Minn. - The Crime Victims/Criminal Records Division, a committee of the Minnesota State House, has voted to reject a bill meant to close a loophole that allows the sale of weapons at gun shows without requiring background checks.

Joan Peterson of Duluth, who lost her sister to gun violence, is president of the Minnesota Million Moms March Chapters. She says easy access to guns not only contributes to tragedy, injury, and often death, it also has a huge public cost in terms of medical care and the expense of holding trials.

After her personal tragedy, she learned the extent to which gun violence touches lives.

"There are so many victims. I don't know that people understand how many of us are out there. 30,000 people a year nationally are killed by guns, either suicide, homicide, or accidental deaths."

Peterson, who is also a board member of Citizens for a Safer Minnesota, was among those who testified before the Crime Victims/Criminal Records committee. She says they'll try again in the next session.

Peterson says supporters of such legislation are often painted as people who hate guns, but she says she's not anti-gun, anti-hunter, or anti-anyone's rights. She and her husband own guns and come from a hunting family. They keep the guns locked in a metal safe. Peterson says hunters, gun-owners and police support closing the gun show loophole.

"We have felt that we actually represent a majority of Minnesotans. We did a poll in 2005, a University of Minnesota survey, that also found 82 percent of Minnesotans in favor of this."

Peterson will continue to push for closing the gun show loophole, and points out that more Americans are killed every two years by gun violence than the number of soldiers who died in combat in the Vietnam war.

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Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - MN