A nationwide bus tour promoting gun control rolled into Minneapolis on Wednesday, where local politicians joined shooting survivors and the relatives of people who have been shot to death to call on Congress to pass background check legislation.
The 25-state bus tour, organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, drew about 150 people outside Minneapolis City Hall.
“I never thought something as horrific as the Sandy Hook massacre would ever take place in our state, let alone in my sister’s classroom,” said Carlee Soto, one of the event’s speakers and the younger sister of Newtown victim Victoria Soto, a first grade teacher who threw herself in front of the gunman to protect her students.
Carlee Soto called on members of Congress, naming Minnesota Reps. Erik Paulsen and John Kline, to join those who have supported the kind of background check legislation that has widespread public support.
Also speaking was John Souter, who survived the Sept. 27, 2012, shooting at Accent Signage Systems in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood that left seven dead.
A background check measure failed in the U.S. Senate in April by a vote of 54 to 46, not enough to meet the 60 votes required to break a filibuster. Public opinion polls at the time showed that nearly 90 percent of Americans support expanding background checks to gun shows, person-to-person sales or online sales.
Speaking to the crowd gathered Wednesday morning, city council member Don Samuels decried the failure of such legislation to pass.
“A few years ago a child in our state swallowed a small lead pendant off a sneaker,” he said. “And within a year Congress changed laws to make it illegal to put a lead pendant on a piece of clothing. And yet every year lead pendants shaped in cylindrical form invade the bodies of our children involuntarily and we do not have the courage to change any laws in their interest.”
Samuels, who is also running for mayor, spoke for nearly 15 minutes as he urged people to commit fresh energy to gun control issues.
“We must act as if our humanity is in danger, because it is,” he said.
At the conclusion of the event, former Minneapolis police chief Tim Dolan joined others who read a list of names of gun victims.
Photo: Don Samuels, chair of the City Council's Public Safety Committee, called on Wednesday for expanded background checks for gun purchases at the "No More Names" bus tour stop at Minneapolis City Hall.