Inspired by the Newtown school shooting, a touring national gun-control campaign endorsed by the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul stops Wednesday in downtown Minneapolis for a rally outside the federal courthouse.
Gun rights advocates are spreading the word and reviewing the legalities of showing up with their firearms.
The “No More Names” rally gets underway at 10 a.m. at the courthouse plaza at 300 S. 4th St. The signature event during the rally is when participants read the names of gun violence victims since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December in Newtown, Conn.
The six-week-old tour is organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition of more than 1,000 mayors that says it is the largest gun violence prevention advocacy group in the country.
Among its members are Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. Both will be at Wednesday’s rally, their offices said Monday.
“As too many gun violence victims and their families can attest, we can’t afford to ignore the negative impacts of gun violence in our communities,” Coleman said Monday. “As mayors of large cities, both Mayor Rybak and I have an all-too-clear view of how gun violence continues to be a real problem in communities across the country. I urge both houses of Congress to come together and support this crucial first step of common-sense background checks for gun purchases.”
Also appearing at the rally will be John Souter, an employee at Accent Signage in Minneapolis who was shot during a deadly workplace massacre in September; Sami Rahamim, who father owned Accent and was slain in that shooting; and Carlee Soto, whose sister Victoria was killed in the Newtown massacre.
Co-founded by New York’s Michael Bloomberg and Boston’s Thomas Menino in 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns says its mission is to “make America’s communities safer by keeping illegal guns out of dangerous hands.”
The 100-day tour began in Newtown on June 14, six months after the school shooting. Its goal is to visit 25 states.
A Twin Cities gun-ownership group is advising any of its members who might attend the rally to “be peaceful and respectful” but to also “be recognizable as opposing Bloomberg’s rights-stripping, criminal mayors’ organization with clothing, hats, and/or signage.”
On its Facebook page, the Twin Cities Gun Owners & Carry Forum cautions its supporters to “watch for agitators and don’t take the bait.”
The group, while not advocating its followers to come to the rally armed, also has distributed on Facebook what it says is the applicable law concerning the limits carrying a weapon in federal buildings or on federal property.
“I don’t see anything that extends to the outdoor plaza,” said the forum’s Shelley Leeson, of Minneapolis. “I’m not a lawyer, and I’m not to going to advise anyone.”
Leeson said her group is not organizing any opposition to the rally but wanted to make sure its supporters were aware of the event and the federal gun-possession statute.
“I don’t know who [among gun rights advocates] will be showing up,” she said. “A lot of people are interested” in voicing their opposition to the mayors’ efforts.
No local, state or federal government agency could or would say whether it was legal or not for citizens to attend the rally and be carrying a firearm.
The agencies questioned -- Minneapolis police, U.S. attorney's office, the U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI, the Minnesota division of the federal Department of Homeland Security, the federal General Services Administration and the Federal Protective Service -- either said the question was not for them to answer or did not supply an answer by the end of the business day Monday.