Walz signs gun control measures into law: “Minnesota has been waiting too damn long”

Walz signs Red flag and Background Checks into Law
Walz signs Red flag and Background Checks into Law(Quinn Gorham)
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 5:48 PM CDT
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (GRAY) – On Friday, Governor Tim Walz surrounded himself with gun control advocates and members of his party as he prepared to sign two new gun control measures into law.

“There’s a reason the room is so full [for this bill signing], because the vast majority of Minnesota has been waiting too damn long for this bill,” The Governor said as he approached the podium.

The measures are a part of the State’s Public Safety Omnibus bill, and include Universal Background Checks and Extreme Risk Protection Orders, or “Red-Flag Laws.”

“The issues that we will sign today are two very simple common sense issues that have been being asked to be debated here at the Capitol for decades,” said Walz Friday.

Walz believes in the wake of several recent mass shootings, it was time to take action as a state. Walz expressed that he believes “thoughts and prayers” often need to be followed by action.

“I feel these people. I do worry their prayers are not being handled and not being heard. And all of us coming together here have said we are more than that. We need action and Minnesota action is going to happen today with the signing of these bills,” said Walz Friday.

The bill has drawn criticism from gun rights advocates, who worry that the bill would allow the government easier access to taking away firearms. DFLers like the bill’s author, Senator Ron Latz, say law-abiding gun owners have nothing to worry about.

Latz indicated that polls seem to suggest support for the measures.

“If you ask the residents, a strong majority support both of these bills,” said Latz.

It’s not immediately clear which statistics the senator was referring to but a poll done by MinnPost in the wake of the Uvalde, TX shooting suggests that roughly 64% of Minnesotans support red-flag laws in some capacity.

Still, the legislation proved controversial even within Latz’s own party. Some DFL Senators hadn’t made their position on the bill known until the days leading up to the vote. Senator Grant Hauschild was one such “swing-vote” who revealed his intent to vote for the bill just a few days before the Senate took it up for a final vote. until the very last minute.

“The moment I was 100 percent confident was when the votes went up on the board,” said Latz, as he laughed alongside his colleagues.

Latz acknowledges the issue was complex, especially for lawmakers in politically “purple” districts. In the end, he feels those lawmakers made the right decision.

“I’m absolutely certain that the representatives and senators that took what might be characterized as politically difficult votes were doing so in lockstep with the majority of residents in their districts,” he said.

The measures go into effect on July 1, and Latz said it will take a bit to determine a process to submit “red-flag” complaints.