Democrats push gun control bills in the wake of Burnsville tragedy

Rep. Paul Novotny called it "disrespectful" for state Democrats to begin "pushing political agendas" so soon after the tragedy.

A group of activists and Democratic state legislators held a press conference on Wednesday to advocate for a series of gun control bills. (Minnesota House Info/YouTube)

A group of activists and Democratic state legislators held a press conference on Wednesday to advocate for a series of gun control bills. The day prior, Gov. Tim Walz asked the Minnesota Legislature to consider expanding gun control laws.

This effort comes just days after three first responders were shot and killed in Burnsville by a man who was not legally allowed to possess firearms. Authorities have not yet disclosed how the Burnsville police shooter, Shannon Cortez Gooden, came into possession of the firearms he used.

The two police officers and fire medic who were killed by Gooden will be honored at a public memorial service on Feb. 28 at 11 a.m. at Grace Church in Eden Prairie.

“We all know that gun violence is on the rise, and that we want to put sensible gun violence prevention measures into place,” said Rep. Kaohly Her, D-St. Paul.

Among the bills discussed at Wednesday’s press conference was Rep. Her’s HF 601. This legislation would require gun owners to report stolen or lost firearms to law enforcement. If a gun owner fails to report a lost or stolen firearm within 48 hours after learning of the theft, they may face criminal charges.

Furthermore, Rep. Her pushed for the passage of HF 396, authored by Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, D-Roseville. HF 396 would set new laws for how firearms must be stored. Under the proposed law, gun owners would be required to store their firearms in a certain manner or face legal consequences ranging from misdemeanors to felonies depending on the offense.

State Reps. Cedrick Fraizer, D-New Hope, and Leigh Finke, D-St. Paul, also attended Wednesday’s press conference.

The legislators were joined by Protect Minnesota, a left-wing advocacy organization. Maggiy Emery, Protect Minnesota’s communications director, spoke at the press conference. Emery told the gathered press, “Polling shows that less than 50% of Minnesotans who own guns are safely securing them all the time.”

While the legislators did not comment specifically on what happened in Burnsville, Gov. Walz did discuss the tragedy when pushing for new gun laws on Tuesday, according to WCCO.

The governor said state lawmakers should consider expanding Minnesota laws that govern how firearms must be stored. Additionally, Gov. Walz talked about increasing penalties to stop people from providing guns to individuals who have been legally barred from possessing firearms. 

In response to the push for more gun control laws so soon after the Burnsville tragedy, Rep. Paul Novotny, R-Elk River, released a statement, saying, “It is disrespectful for Democrats and their allies to already begin pushing political agendas before the families of the three fallen first responders have had time to grieve and lay their loved ones to rest.”

Furthermore, Rep. Novotny said Minnesota would be far safer if Democrats spent time working to hold criminals accountable rather than push gun control laws “that place new burdens on law-abiding Minnesotans.”

At Wednesday’s press conference, Rep. Her expressed optimism that the proposed gun control laws would be passed this year.

Referring to HF 601 and HF 396, Rep. Her said, “The appetite for having these bills heard and really to get them across the finish line exists.”

“My hope is that we will get them across the finish line this year,” she added.

In addition to the bills promoted at the press conference, Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature have introduced legislation that would ban semiautomatic firearms, ban the sale or transfer of semiautomatic firearms, and let local governments pass their own gun control laws.

Last year, Democrats in control of state government approved gun control legislation that instituted extreme risk protection orders and universal background checks. The extreme risk protection order statute, often referred to as a “Red Flag” law, allows the government to strip law-abiding gun owners of their firearms, without due process, if the gun owners are suspected of being a danger to themselves or others.


Luke Sprinkel

Luke Sprinkel previously worked as a Legislative Assistant at the Minnesota House of Representatives. He grew up as a Missionary Kid (MK) living in England, Thailand, Tanzania, and the Middle East. Luke graduated from Regent University in 2018.