Like so many of us, I was shocked and saddened when senseless violence struck Sandy Hook Elementary School. Far too many Americans’ lives are needlessly being cut short by ongoing shootings, including six Minnesotans who were killed at Accent Signage, a company based in the district I represent.
In the weeks that have followed, federal and state gun laws have come under strict scrutiny, and people on both sides have become more vocal regarding the pros and cons for tighter gun regulations.
It is important to consider that Sandy Hook is one of a series of mass shootings that have taken place in the United States in the past couple decades, but that is not the whole story of gun violence in our country. This past year, there were 520 fatal shootings in the streets of Chicago alone-the equivalent to the number of people killed at Sandy Hook every 19 days.
As Americans call for tighter and new gun regulations at the federal level, there is certain to be legislation proposed at the state level. These most likely will include a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, universal background checks and revamping the existing data system, closing the gun show loophole, and tighter restrictions on who can purchase guns. There will certainly be disagreements about the best way to prevent more tragedies like Sandy Hook, but I think we can all agree that there is a need for greater safety.
Consider the similarities between gun permitting and issuing a driver’s license. Both require that an individual go through a training program which culminates with a test of some form, and each require you to renew your license/permit every 5 or 4 years, respectively. But that is where the two diverge.
With a driver’s license, you are required to register your car when it is purchased, renew the registration every year and provide insurance to drive on the roads in Minnesota. You do not need to register ownership of a gun or provide proof of insurance for the gun. Some people will call this a bad analogy. I know that the ability to drive is a privilege in the state of Minnesota, while the Supreme Court has ruled that the right to own a gun is protected under the 2nd amendment. There are many other analogies that could be considered, for instance, we put many more restriction on buying Nasal Decongestants than purchasing guns.
I for one will be pursuing more sensible gun regulations with the goal of making our streets and homes safer, and I look forward to a constructive conversation with the people of Minnesota.
I am proud to serve the people of District 59B in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Rep. Raymond Dehn