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The organized effort by conservative activists in northern Minnesota to push an agenda opposed to gun safety is deceptive and county commissioners across the region shouldn’t fall for it.
The activists are pushing county boards to approve resolutions declaring their borders as “sanctuaries” against the enforcement of gun safety measures currently making their way through the state Legislature. Their campaign falsely claims that many of the measures being considered in St. Paul are unconstitutional as an infringement on their right to bear arms.
Unfortunately for them, despite a federal judiciary that is tilted further to the right than at any time in modern history, the courts don’t agree.
Don’t take it from us. It was the conservative icon Justice Antonin Scalia who wrote in the influential 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, that the Second Amendment is “not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
In the wake of the Heller decision, the National Rifle Association flooded the federal courts with challenges to any manner of gun safety regulation which were enacted by states or cities stem America’s seemingly ever-rising tide of gun violence. But the courts have overwhelmingly found in favor of gun safety regulations, since they don’t infringe on the ability of someone to own or bear a firearm.
Gun rights advocates regularly argue that many of the measures enacted won’t be effective, and that’s certainly true if we have jurisdictions all across the state of Minnesota and the country that refuse to enforce them. It’s a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy in which the activists seek to undermine the effectiveness of gun safety regulation, and then complain that the laws don’t have the intended effect.
We certainly don’t endorse every gun safety measure currently circulating in St. Paul. There are always many more bills introduced than ever see a governor’s signature and we readily acknowledge we’re likely not aware of every bill currently in the various hoppers at the Capitol.
But there are some measures that could well be effective, including a so-called red flag provision that would allow courts to temporarily disarm individuals experiencing mental or emotional instability. Keep in mind, those currently urging enactment of Second Amendment sanctuary status for northern Minnesota counties believe that mentally unstable individuals should not only be allowed to have as many guns as they want, but should also have ready access to high-capacity magazines along with the most deadly types of ammunition available. That’s simply reckless.
Universal background checks are another bugaboo to these extremists. A provision currently in the Legislature would eliminate the private gun sale loophole for gun purchases and would require anyone who wishes to sell a gun to have a background check on the buyer. Is it, perhaps, inconvenient? No doubt. Does it infringe on the Second Amendment? Not in any way, shape, or form.
We need to keep in mind what these extremists, and the elected officials currently doing their bidding, are really trying to accomplish. They want the total elimination of all gun regulations, despite poll after poll that shows overwhelming support —even among gun owners— for sensible gun safety measures.
Indeed, these extremists know full well that they lack the support of the public for their goals. That’s why they have regularly colluded with like-minded county commissioners to have their resolutions added to county board agendas at the last minute. They recognize that if the public knew what they were trying to do, they would face strong opposition.
These extremists are relying on false claims about gun grabs and other such nonsense to gin up support for their cause. Unfortunately, most are just misinformed.
The right to possess a firearm in no way limits the government’s ability to regulate its use. As adults, any one of us has an absolute legal (arguably even a constitutional) right to, for example, go out and buy an automobile or a pickup truck. But that doesn’t prevent the government from requiring that we license it, insure it, and (if we choose to drive it on public streets) abide by a laundry list of regulations to ensure we don’t kill or maim others through our irresponsible actions behind the wheel. For those extremists who don’t like that basic reality, let us suggest they go find another country where they have more rights to bear arms than in the good ol’ United States of America.
Good luck with that.
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Past Chief Justice and very conservative for his time:
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger once said, "The gun lobby's interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American people by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime."
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