On 24 October 2023, ENGAGE hosted an online gathering of 34 people to SET THE TABLE for the 2024 Minnesota Legislative Year. The premise was “laws make a difference”. Those states with strong and fair gun laws are also the most gun safe. Attending were Senator John Marty, Senator Bonnie Westlin, Representative Kelly Moller and Representative David Pinto. Also were influencers and leaders in the leading Minnesota GVP organizations: Joan Peterson of Brady, Suzie Kaufman of Moms Demand Action, Maggiy Emory of Protect Minnesota, Rev. Rolf Olson of the Inter-Faith Alliance of Protect Minnesota, and myself of Engage: Lutherans for Gun Violence Prevention. Everytown ranks Minnesota 7th in the nation for rate of gun violence and 17th in gun law strength. Clearly, we can do better. What follows are the priorities and suggestions for lawmakers to consider and Minnesotans to demand to make Minnesota more gun safe.

  • Prohibit guns in the State Capitol
  • Increase penalties for the use of “switches” which turn handguns into machine guns
  • Mandate safe storage of guns in homes
  • Mandate reporting of lost and stolen guns
  • Restrict gun possession on college campuses
  • Mandate liability insurance on guns by owners
  • Ban assault-style weapons of war
  • Invite conversation with pro-life supporters to address GVP (gun violence prevention)
  • Insure no guns at polling stations
  • Adequately fund mental health resources
  • Initiate conversation with pro-gun folks
  • Investigate “bad apple” gun dealers
  • Endorse Ethan’s Law which would reduce access to firearms
  • Prohibit and regulate “Ghost Guns” from circulation
  • Partner with community groups of attorneys, businesses, teachers, ISAIAH
  • Focus on the language and goals of PUBLIC SAFETY
  • Focus on children and family

Two days ago in Lewiston, Maine, 18 people were murdered by a 40 year old military veteran armed with an AR-15 style automatic weapon of war. The newly elected Republican Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, and member of the Christian Right, says, “At the end of the day, the problem is the human heart. It’s not guns, it’s not the weapons . . . . This is not the time to talk about legislation.” When he accepted the Speaker Gavel I thought I saw him carry his Bible and place it on the dais.

The Lewiston mass shooting was Mass Shooting #566 in the USA in 2023. Katy Kay, BBC Correspondent for MSNBC, reported that when the USA had an assault weapons ban, mass shootings declined by 70%. The Top 10 mass shootings in the USA involved the AR-15 as the weapon of choice. No other nation, no European nation rates a small single digit blip in mass shootings like in the United States. Brady says Americans kill themselves at a rate 25x that of other High Income Countries.

Jesus says in the Beatitudes of Matthew 5-7: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for of such are the children of God.” Amanda Gorman, American Poet Laureate, is quoted saying: “There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” Rev. Al Sharpton cites James 2:17: “Faith without works is dead.” Jesus in Gethsemane, upon seeing a disciple cut off the ear of a soldier coming to arrest him says, “Enough of this!” I say “It is Time”. AMEN