The reaction to state Rep. Kim Norton’s intention to introduce a gun-registration bill in 2016 was predictable, but more importantly, the tone was disappointing.
“Just when you think anti-gun politicians in Minnesota have gotten a clue, one pops up and proposes what they call ‘common sense gun law changes,’ ” says the opening of an e-mail sent by the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee, urging its supporters to contact Norton and tell her they oppose her efforts.
With its condescending introduction, the gun rights group declared its disapproval of legislation that hasn’t even been written. That unyielding attitude is one of the reasons Norton, a DFLer from Rochester, is retiring from the Minnesota House after five terms. But before she leaves, she is going to try to engage the hard-line factions in the Legislature one last time.
“This [bill] will not pass, and I know that, but I am going to put together a comprehensive package of gun legislation because I have had it with all the gun deaths and what is going on,” Norton said.
If nothing else, Norton is a realist. She admits the proposal to make it easier to track gun ownership in Minnesota might not even receive a hearing, but she feels compelled to open a discussion on gun violence.
The influence of the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee was felt immediately. Norton said she has received about 60 e-mails and 15 phone calls on the issue so far, with a vast majority from people who do not live in her legislative district.
“People have passed judgment beforehand, and they’re being encouraged to do so by these PACs before anything has been written and we’ve had a conversation, and that exactly is the frustration,” Norton said.
The group has mocked Norton’s comparison that if she sells her kayak, she has to register whom she sold it to. The group also raised privacy concerns and noted that Canada attempted and abandoned its national gun registry.
Still, Norton is undaunted. “Many of my constituents have asked for change,” she said.
We don’t see Norton’s gun-registration proposal as a violation of the Second Amendment. Nor do we buy into the argument that it’s the first step of a slippery slope toward gun confiscation.
The bill will “help us get a little bit of a grip of who has guns, where they are,” Norton said.
She just wants to talk. If you don’t like her gun-registry proposal, just saying no before reading the bill only deepens the divide. If you have a better idea, she’d like to hear it. So would we.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE ROCHESTER POST-BULLETIN