After widespread condemnation of a seemingly violent comment by state Rep. Cal Bahr, the legislator said Monday his statement at a rally against new gun restrictions was misinterpreted and he is sorry for the confusion.
“There’s a lot of us in this room that have had enough, and it’s time to start riding herd on the rest of these people that want to take your rights away from you,” Bahr, R-East Bethel, told a crowd of hundreds that gathered at the State Capitol on Saturday. “They will not go quietly into the good night. They need to be kicked to the curb and stomped on and run over a few times.”
That comment was sharply rebuked by Democrats, including Gov. Tim Walz and House Speaker Melissa Hortman, as well as Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka.
After the critiques, Bahr put out a statement Monday saying the “they” he was referring to was two gun control bills that the Legislature is considering, not people.
“The intended focus of my remarks was on two proposed bills which are designed to strip away the God-given and Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of self-protection,” Bahr said in a statement, adding that he does not condone violence.
The measures would expand background checks for people purchasing guns and allow police or family members to request in court that someone’s firearms be removed if they are a threat to themselves or the safety of others.
The proposals are up for a hearing Wednesday in the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Division.
Walz supports the gun measures that will be considered in the state House this week. He issued a statement Sunday calling Bahr’s comment “unacceptable” and said it risks inciting violence and pushes people further into their ideological corners. Gazelka, R-Nisswa, noted on Twitter that he opposes expanded background checks, but he said Bahr’s language doesn’t belong in any debates at the Legislature.
Bahr’s apology didn’t stop the criticism. Sen. Ron Latz, D-St. Louis Park, who has been an advocate for gun control legislation, said he is troubled that the comment at the rally was met with cheers and likes on Facebook.
“Rep. Bahr’s rhetoric endangers law abiding persons, and a gun in the hands of a person who feels this way or speaks this way is a potential menace to everyone,” Latz said in a statement.