Hilda Hernandez of Mexico held a photograph of her daughter Guadalupe Galeno-Hernandez, now 13, who was shot and paralyzed in a drive-by shooting. Pedro Bustamante, right, of Chicago attended the gathering as part of Minneapolis Mad Dads.
Shari Gross, Star Tribune
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, addressed a gathering that included people affected by gun violence. He urged support of legislation to prevent felons, among others, from buying guns.
Gross, Shari, Dml - Special To The Star Tribun
Mayors say: Tighten rules on gun sales
- Article by: MATT MCKINNEY
- Star Tribune
- March 11, 2011 - 10:21 PM
It doesn't take much more than cash to buy a weapon from an unlicensed dealer at a gun show in Minnesota, a fact known to seasoned gun buyers and proven by activists' hidden-camera videos. Yet most people assume the state's rules on background checks for gun purchases would prevent that, said Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay. The misunderstanding is so widespread, Ramsay said, that he recently found himself telling another police chief about the gun show loophole.
"He didn't know," said Ramsay.
Fixing that loophole in Minnesota and elsewhere while tightening the federal background check system is the focus of a national Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign that stopped Friday at Minneapolis City Hall. Surrounded by relatives of local people killed in shootings, the mayors and police chiefs of St. Paul and Minneapolis, along with Ramsay, urged support of legislation to prevent felons, domestic abusers or the mentally ill from buying weapons.
"There has to be a reasonable background check," said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.
Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said he supports federal legislation that would ban ammunition magazines that hold a large number of bullets. The high-capacity magazines, which have been legal since a ban expired in 2004, were used by shooters in the recent Tucson, Ariz., shooting that killed six; in the Virginia Tech slayings in 2007 that left 33 dead, and in the 2009 attack at Fort Hood, Texas, that killed 13.
The Fix Gun Checks campaign's most visible spokesman has been Omar Samaha, whose sister Reema was among those killed in the Virginia Tech shootings. Samaha, who two years ago purchased guns with no questions asked at a gun show in Virginia for the ABC News program "20/20," said the gun show loophole hasn't changed yet, despite public support for its end.
WHAT DO THE POLLS SAY?
A Mayors Against Illegal Guns survey of National Rifle Association members found that 69 percent support background checks for all sales at gun shows. Eighty-five percent of nonmembers support background checks, the survey found.
Opinion varies on the hazards of allowing unlicensed dealers to sell guns in a private sale, however. Nearly a third of guns used in crimes were purchased at gun shows and flea markets, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The National Rife Association, meanwhile, says it's less than 1 percent.
Also attending were several families who were thrust into the news when someone in their family died in a shooting.
Patty Swedberg, the mother of murder victim Paul Fisher, brought a large sign displaying his picture and a phone number for tips. He was shot to death in the stairwell of his apartment building at 5301 Chicago Av. S.
His July 25, 2009, homicide is still unsolved.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747
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