I was at the Hibbing hearing on gun bills with other supporters of passing laws requiring background checks on all gun sales to allow the temporary removal of guns from people who could harm themselves or others (“Heated hearing,” Jan. 22). Supporters of these life-saving bills were booed, jeered, yelled at, poked in the back, verbally attacked, and generally overwhelmed by some who were armed and others who made us feel concerned for our safety. DFL Sen. Ron Latz was jeered, called a liar, interrupted while introducing his bills, yelled at, and personally attacked by angry people in opposition to the bills. Victims and supporters of reasonable gun laws were booed as they testified, retraumatizing them as they spoke.
I have attended many hearings on gun bills. This was the most hostile hearing I have ever experienced for its total lack of civility and decorum. Republican Sen. Warren Limmer, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, lost control of the hearing and allowed it to get out of hand.
“The debate gave hints as to what might lie ahead for the proposals in the divided Legislature,” the News Tribune reported. It certainly provided valuable insight into how gun-rights advocates outside the Twin Cities area feel about life-saving, reasonable measures.
Sen. Limmer and the Republican Senate were under pressure to hear the bills, given that gun-safety reform is at the top of the list of concerns for Minnesotans and Americans; 84% of Minnesotans support requiring background checks on all gun sales. The group of angry folks who came to the Hibbing hearing reflected a minority of Minnesotans and gun owners.
Their angry voices reflected fear of losing something. Our fear is of losing lives to senseless gun violence.
Joan A. Peterson