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Rights or intimidation?
The issue of intimidation was raised by several witnesses opposed to guns in the Capitol, who said weapons at hearings discussing gun violence sends a strong message.
“It is unreasonable for gun-violence victims who are already traumatized to face loaded guns when testifying about their experience,” said Gary Thompson of St. Paul, who attended this year’s legislative hearings. Anna Dick Gambucci of St. Paul said she felt intimidated sitting in crowded committee rooms dominated by those supporting gun-rights. Ann Mongoven of St. Paul said she felt heckling and gun-carrying were used this year “with the intent of creating a climate of intimidation.”
“Allowing people with loaded guns in the Capitol doesn’t advance the democratic process — it shuts it down,” Mongroven said.
An official of the National Rifle Association, which has strong support from rural and suburban legislators, appeared at the hearing to oppose limits on guns at the Capitol, calling it an “affront to law-abiding gun owners.” Rob Doar of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance said banning guns would make the Capitol less safe.
“Gun-free zones offer a target-rich and low-risk environment for people who want to commit mass harm,” Doar said. Changing the policy, he said, would be “turning permit-holders into second-class citizens by violating their rights.”
Prettner Solon said the panel will recommend changes to the Legislature next year, but it is unclear whether it will recommend a change in gun policy at the Capitol.
Jim Ragsdale • 651-925-5042