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Mullery, whose north Minneapolis district has seen some of the state’s worst gun violence, said the cultural divide was summed up by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “In Milwaukee, if someone yells ‘Duck!’ you fall on the floor, because someone’s shooting at you,” Mullery said, paraphrasing Barrett.” If you’re in rural Wisconsin and somebody yells ‘Duck!’ you grab your guns and you go hunting for the ducks.”
The divide means that many rural DFLers with high ratings by the National Rifle Association oppose banning weapons or expanding checks to all private sales.
They view crime as a complicated issue that requires attention to such issues as mental health and criminal sentencing, and tend to view Paymar’s bill as an imposition on law-abiding gun-owners that will not pose a significant barrier for those who intend to do harm.
It has fallen to House Speaker Paul Thissen, a Minneapolis DFLer who personally supports universal background checks, to try to bring the two sides together. He said he did not try to impose a solution, but helped broker the agreement that resulted in background checks for gun shows only. In most years, that would be thought of as a significant gain for gun-control advocates. But this year, their expectations are higher.
“This is one of those issues where, what people bring with them to the Capitol leads them to different conclusions about what we ought to do,” Thissen said. “And that is what the legislative debate is all about.”
Jim Ragsdale • 651-925-5042